Rita Dove

Beauty and the Beast

Darling, the plates have been cleared away, 
the servants are in their quarters.
What lies will we lie down with tonight?
The rabbit pounding in your heart, my

child legs, pale from a life of petticoats?
My father would not have had it otherwise
when he trudged the road home with our souvenirs.
You are so handsome it eats my heart away…

Beast, when you lay stupid with grief
at my feet, I was too young to see anything
die. Outside, the roses are folding
lip upon red lip, I miss my sisters —

they are standing before their clouded mirrors.
Gray animals are circling under the windows.
Sisters, don’t you see what will snatch you up —
the expected. the handsome, the one who needs us!