{Reissue} Rose Harper by Sara Mithra


When Laurel cannot find the honey spurdle
in the kitchen, she dives beneath the quilt
seeking Rose’s sleeping form,
pushing aside sheets and gowns until
she reaches the grand alluvial fan of Rose’s dark hair.

It only took
once finding a brooch under Rose’s skirt
(hooked to her dingey bloomers)
for Laurel to accuse her every time
of capturing a missing bauble in her thatch.
Sleeping Rose hardly stirs, except
to worry an embroidered rose on the corner of the quilt,
thinking, no doubt, even in dreams
how her mother cursed her “Rose.”
Years of mauve. Dowdy Aunts twisted curling paper in her hair to no avail,
her curls flat as her voice in the choir.
Her name sapped the strength she may have reaped
from one like Charity or Philomel.

Laurel blushes to appraise Rose-in-herself: pasty, sapworn,
napping away a fine afternoon, long since given up pinkening
her wardrobe or sneezing at pollen.
Hastening past lace drawn close across Rose’s waist,
Laurel resembles her own namesake:
ornamental yet astringent,
branching less-than-courtly entanglements.
To abandon the fruitless search,
Laurel rests her cheek against Rose’s thigh.
A honey spurdle? She can carve another tomorrow
out of butternut or sugar pine.
Now, she rather drizzle honey as the bees do.
Without the spoon.

With powerful strangeness, Sara Mithra recites tales of desire at the margins. Her pieces, often troubling and folkloric, give voice to characters that would otherwise be drowned out by the calliope or train whistle. Her hand-wrought chapbooks include The Odditory, Wood: A Handbook, The Better to Teeth You With, and DIG. She also collages experimental poem videos from found footage.

What has been her favorite place to hide? “The roof. Unconfined, open to the sky. It made me giddy to climb the nailed-plank ladder on the chicken coop and scramble to the garage pitch. I wasn’t really hidden, except no one looked up. I liked watching my family searching the backyard. It gave me the rare sense of being wanted.”

ArtkAt Philbin is an artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She draws inspiration from fairy tales and personal mythologies to create her delicate illustrations with many, many tiny pen lines. See more of her artwork at www.katphilbin.com.

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