Her Bones In My Hands:
He laid this harp upon a stone,
And straight it began to play alone.
‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.
‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
And by him my William, sweet and true.’
But the last tune that the harp playd then,
Was ‘Woe to my sister, false Helen!’
– “The Twa Sisters,” Child 10B
They took the sister away
Crying, was her name Anne or Helen or Jane?
Her voice echoes in the hall
But my heart hears another voice
Still echoing around us,
Beneath us all.
The harpist, shaken,
Makes hastily to leave but
I catch him at the door.
I offer money, status –
The now silent harp,
I am begging her hand in marriage.
He accepts, hands her over,
Leaves without a word.
Her bones in my hands I
Run my fingers over her
Collarbone, the base,
I never touched her there
When she was alive
Her fingers, only screws now,
Screws once tangled in my hair and
I run my fingers over hair strings
For music and now
I listen, listen for her voice
And hear nothing –
(Nothing saves her)
Nothing save the lonely sounds
Of an ill-made harp.
Brittany Warman is a PhD student in English and Folklore at The Ohio State University where her work focuses mainly on fairy tale retellings. She has had creative work published in Jabberwocky Magazine, Cabinet des Fées, inkscrawl, Eternal Haunted Summer, Mirror Dance, Scareship, and others. Her website is BrittanyWarman.com and she journals at Briarspell.livejournal.com.