They have locked brother and me
in different chambers. Not for long,
just the time they need
to check on our dubious alibis.
I was tied to the metal chair
upon my own request
with a half-sweater of soft wool
stretched thin like a rope.
I feared I’d fall asleep, slump,
slide down to the frigid pavement.
I begged to be attached
to the armrests and back.

Brother asked for a feather.
Nothing else. His plea
was supported by his lawyer. No,
he will not escape as Icarus did.
He won’t write
his memoir, as ink
won’t be made available.
Or paper.
He will trace figures, though
in front of the one-sided mirror
in the avian language
we have learned at a tender age.

Through the wall, though asleep
and also blindfolded
I’ll decipher the message
in code.
It will detail an intricate plan
of evasion through subtle
techniques of withering
shrinking, silent implosion.
I already know the proceeding
of course but the feather, like
a magic wand, a maestro’s baton
will secure perfect tuning.

Our expiring, just like our
beginning, will be quasi-
synchronous. Take a breath
inhale, exhale, and we’re gone.

Snow White

I will starve you, but not to death.
Every night you’ll wait for the apple.

Such a thin slice… will let the light
through when you’ll hoist it against
the small window.

It will bend between your index
and thumb, inconsistent like a slip
of paper.

Diaphanous scrap. Holy waffle
lingering on your tongue as you slowly
savor redemption

or else hold a bit longer
to the sweetness of sin.

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician, and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Psky’s Porch, 2022), and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022).

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