Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
By Anne Sexton
No matter what life you lead
the virgin is a lovely number:
cheeks as fragile as cigarette paper,
arms and legs made of Limoges,
lips like Vin Du Rhône,
rolling her china-blue doll eyes
open and shut.
Open to say,
Good Day Mama,
and shut for the thrust
of the unicorn.
She is unsoiled.
She is as white as a bonefish.
Once there was a lovely virgin
called Snow White.
Say she was thirteen.
a beauty in her own right,
though eaten, of course, by age,
would hear of no beauty surpassing her own.
Beauty is a simple passion,
but, oh my friends, in the end
you will dance the fire dance in iron shoes.
The stepmother had a mirror to which she referred--
something like the weather forecast--
a mirror that proclaimed
the one beauty of the land.
She would ask,
Looking glass upon the wall,
who is fairest of us all?
And the mirror would reply,
You are the fairest of us all.
Pride pumped in her like poison.
Suddenly one day the mirror replied,
Queen, you are full fair, 'tis true,
but Snow White is fairer than you.
Until that moment Snow White
had been no more important
than a dust mouse under the bed.
But now the queen saw brown spots on her hand
and four whiskers over her lip
so she condemned Snow White
to be hacked to death.
Bring me her heart, she said to the hunter,
and I will salt it and eat it.
The hunter, however, let his prisoner go
and brought a boar's heart back to the castle.
The queen chewed it up like a cube steak.
Now I am fairest, she said,
lapping her slim white fingers.
Snow White walked in the wildwood
for weeks and weeks.
At each turn there were twenty doorways
and at each stood a hungry wolf,
his tongue lolling out like a worm.
The birds called out lewdly,
talking like pink parrots,
and the snakes hung down in loops,
each a noose for her sweet white neck.
On the seventh week
she came to the seventh mountain
and there she found the dwarf house.
It was as droll as a honeymoon cottage
and completely equipped with
seven beds, seven chairs, seven forks
and seven chamber pots.
Snow White ate seven chicken livers
and lay down, at last, to sleep.
The dwarfs, those little hot dogs,
walked three times around Snow White,
the sleeping virgin. They were wise
and wattled like small czars.
Yes. It's a good omen,
they said, and will bring us luck.
They stood on tiptoes to watch
Snow White wake up. She told them
about the mirror and the killer-queen
and they asked her to stay and keep house.
Beware of your stepmother,
Soon she will know you are here.
While we are away in the mines
during the day, you must not
open the door.
Looking glass upon the wall . . .
The mirror told
and so the queen dressed herself in rags
and went out like a peddler to trap Snow White.
She went across seven mountains.
She came to the dwarf house
and Snow White opened the door
and bought a bit of lacing.
The queen fastened it tightly
around her bodice,
as tight as an Ace bandage,
so tight that Snow White swooned.
She lay on the floor, a plucked daisy.
When the dwarfs came home they undid the lace
and she revived miraculously.
She was as full of life as soda pop.
Beware of your stepmother,
She will try once more.
Looking glass upon the wall. . .
Once more the mirror told
and once more the queen dressed in rags
and once more Snow White opened the door.
This time she bought a poison comb,
a curved eight-inch scorpion,
and put it in her hair and swooned again.
The dwarfs returned and took out the comb
and she revived miraculously.
She opened her eyes as wide as Orphan Annie.
Beware, beware, they said,
but the mirror told,
the queen came,
Snow White, the dumb bunny,
opened the door
and she bit into a poison apple
and fell down for the final time.
When the dwarfs returned
they undid her bodice,
they looked for a comb,
but it did no good.
Though they washed her with wine
and rubbed her with butter
it was to no avail.
She lay as still as a gold piece.
The seven dwarfs could not bring themselves
to bury her in the black ground
so they made a glass coffin
and set it upon the seventh mountain
so that all who passed by
could peek in upon her beauty.
A prince came one June day
and would not budge.
He stayed so long his hair turned green
and still he would not leave.
The dwarfs took pity upon him
and gave him the glass Snow White--
its doll's eyes shut forever--
to keep in his far-off castle.
As the prince's men carried the coffin
they stumbled and dropped it
and the chunk of apple flew out
of her throat and she woke up miraculously.
And thus Snow White became the prince's bride.
The wicked queen was invited to the wedding feast
and when she arrived there were
red-hot iron shoes,
in the manner of red-hot roller skates,
clamped upon her feet.
First your toes will smoke
and then your heels will turn black
and you will fry upward like a frog,
she was told.
And so she danced until she was dead,
a subterranean figure,
her tongue flicking in and out
like a gas jet.
Meanwhile Snow White held court,
rolling her china-blue doll eyes open and shut
and sometimes referring to her mirror
as women do.
Have spent very nearly the entire day doing things with my new computer, like trying to decide how much of the 2G of LOTR art I burned to CD from the computer which now belongs to
I also entertained myself in spectacular fashion while copying, burning, formatting, installing, rebooting, registering and all those other fun new computer activities. First, since my kids had very little homework and I had laundry to fold, we all watched Airplane!, one of my recent Best Buy $4 purchases (when a DVD is cheaper to buy than to rent and I figure I will watch it more than three times, it's definitely worth purchasing, I figure). They had never seen it; I had not seen it in easily a decade. We were all laughing at the top of our lungs, and my mother stopped by to drop something off for my older son and she sat and watched with us and laughed hysterically too. Man that movie is wonderful.
Then tonight I was in the mood for something funny with music and put on Joe vs. the Volcano, another movie I love that I have not seen in over a decade. That is my very favorite film of both Tom Hanks' and Meg Ryan's, and people scoff at me so much when I say that, but having just watched it again I can say that it is absolutely still true in both cases. The music is fabulous, the scene with the moon rising and the prayer can make me unaccountably sniffly and nostalgic despite the utter silliness of the plot (the rainbow lights of New York, the Orange Crush-drinking, Hava Nagila-singing Pacific islanders), and Ryan in particular comes across completely charming and unaffected in all three roles; I can't think of another actress who could have pulled off that triple at the time this film was made. And, you know, the theme about how you take your baggage everywhere but sometimes that's what saves you...
Otherwise I still have a sore throat, though I managed to go out to lunch with my very oldest friend, the one who has the Superbowl party every year. We mostly talked about kids, her new dog and our dissatisfaction with the new, unimproved Bush administration. Although she has known me since first grade and we have never been out of contact for more than a couple of months at a time -- and those mostly while we were in college and graduate/medical school when time was short and she spent a year in Israel -- sometimes I wonder how she can possibly have known me for 32 years and still become surprised that I read obsessively and compulsively collect on certain subjects. After going out for Indian food, we walked around to the nearby used bookstore and she was bemused by my drooling over an enormous National Geographic book, The Romance of the Sea, with wonderful illustrations and chapters on the Constitution, the Victory, Magellan's ships, etc. How she failed to notice my reading theme for 2004 (namely: Patrick O'Brian) is beyond me. What was she looking for? Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which her eight-year-old got her interested in!
Rosie entertains herself by reading about her lookalike, Garfield.