Tabula Rasa

This story is paired with “First Epoch” from The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. 


Newborn, ghost bride, bound crone—
blank slates waiting for a new life,
shades of white shed again,
the sum of a lifetime spent
swaddled in snow and sand—
a distorted refraction.

Virginal maiden stained,
pierced by a unicorn’s horn,
her skin burns, the wax melts,
impressing words of warning,
chalked up to a new page—
a refined palimpsest.

A crone’s shroud christened,
her priestess hood waxy and white,
the color of mourning
captured in waves of bleached bone,
trapped in a shattered tear—
a transfiguration.

When will this cycle end,
this turning of stories,
parchment scraped clean, reclaimed,
a new revolution?

When will we shed the white,
that incandescent flame
so easily erased,
phantoms of each other?

Dames blanches, listen well—
call down the wrath of stars,
shed the candidate’s shawl,
heed the phantoms’ warnings
and stop the scribes erasing
the fate of Women in White.


Once upon a time, Carina Bissett wrote travel articles and books about the Southwest. These days, she spends her time crafting twisted fairy tales and cross-pollinated mythic fiction. Her short fiction and poetry can be found at the Journal of Mythic Arts, The NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales and other assorted journals and anthologies.