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The Sweet Sleep of Roses or, After the Fall


This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Get NonBinary Review #15 at Zoetic Press. 


There are rats in the roses;
I know this is true.
I feed them feathers and pearls
and, in return, they keep us safe
from the more dangerous pests,
eager to blacken our bounty.

I’ve sugared the soil
where the brambles bowed
around the rambling castle,
stains scoured, walls tumbled
under the weight of words—
melodious, Pegasus, digitalis.

Oh, sweet sister, you should see
what I’ve seen blinded by thorns;
smell the sweet sin hidden,
bound in a pentagram of petals;
taste the devilish seeds buried
deep inside the ripened fruit.

I turned back time, the thirteenth hour
wound down counterclockwise
past rotting hearts and golden coins,
poisonous passions and thorny crowns,
until the paths were closed forever
to anyone who wasn’t you and me

and you will sleep safely forever
in our moon-kissed tower
guarded by dragon teeth sharpened
and wandering eyes plucked,
planted among the twisting roots
of blackberries ripened to rot.


Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies including the Journal of Mythic Arts, Mythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, and The Horror ‘Zine. Her work has been nominated for several awards and she was the recipient of the 2016 HWA Scholarship. For links to stories and poems, stop by http://carinabissett.com.