Mother Gothel Recovers by Sandi Leibowitz

It’s taken a few hundred years
to get over the loss.
A siren’s wail one day awakens her,
reminds her she is more than
cruel crone.
Her long hair once had beauty
of its own.

Too long she’s pined.
The city’s grown around her;
fifty floors of condo swallowed up her tower.
She steps out of her wrinkled skin,
hag abandoned like a dowdy dress,
undoes her cataracts,
unbinds the tresses
once more brown as elm-bark.
They tumble down and down and down,
reminding her of lost Rapunzel.
It’s time that Gothel too escaped the tower.

Did you forget who you were, Gothel?
she asks herself.
Fancied yourself gardener, mother, avenger,
tragic saint.
Did you forget what you were?

She pulls the horn teeth through her hair,
combs out burr and briar and bramble,
tangle of branch and thorn,
forest spilling onto polished hardwoods,
rooting in steel beams.
Pigeons startle as crow and owl
oust them from the roof;
leaf-strewn streams unsettle
the basement’s cracked concrete.
Ragwort and bindweed,
knotweed and star-thistle sprout.
She is the wilderness reclaimed,
deadwood re-greening.


Sandi Leibowitz is a librarian living in New York City whose speculative poetry has appeared in places like Mythic Delirium, Through the Gate, Liminality, Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Goblinfruit, and other online print journals and anthologies.

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