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The Terms of Engagement

She sprints on broken glass, two minutes to midnight,

never glancing at the crimson footprints 

that trail her home. 


She chokes on agony as she pulls the shards

from her soles, then shatters them

on the gravel below. 

                                       You’d never know she put them on that way. 


Listen close enough you’ll hear 

the sweet deception of her song. Don’t wander 

too close—she’ll drag you to sea with her.


Her pain begs to be set free.

She opens her lips to speak, and chokes

on a knot bound tightly in her throat.

                                               You’d never know she was drowning out of water, too.


Every prince believes they’d save the damsel,

but Grimms’ tales reap warnings 

some find hard to sow. 


What they don't understand is:

True love’s kiss is a spell that subsides—

she will always return for poison apples. 

                                              You’d never know she picked them herself.


So I say: go slay your dragon

and rescue the damsel, 

but don’t say you weren’t forewarned.


She glides across the ballroom floor

as if her slippers had wings,

but watch the sleeves of her blue dress turn purple instead of pink.

                                               You’d never know she pricked the spindle on purpose.


   Mikaela Kesinger

Mikaela is a junior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, double majoring in Sociology and Creative Writing with a nonfiction focus. She wants to be an investigative journalist one day, and uses her love for writing to expose underlying social justice issues in her own life as well as those around her.

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