The Gifts They Gave While Beauty Slept

by Maya Chhabra

—I will give you beauty, if I may be so bold-

Trembling at man’s touch, you will have grown

Excruciating thin and fine, pale as one unknown

To summer’s fire; starlight-made, you will not grow old.

—And I will give you music; the beats unfold

In your heart’s helpless fluttering, in pain not shown.

You dance, exquisite notes burning each bird-bone;

The waltz draws to a close. Bright candles grow cold.

—And I will give you death, o rose without a thorn,

Plucked without pain, on a tiny bloom of blood.

No agonizing languishment, just a speck of red.

—Who says she must die? Rather sleep, be reborn,

In tranquil dreaming pass a century’s maidenhood

To awaken healed when those you loved are dead.


Maya Chhabra is a poet and the author of Stranger on the Home Front and the forthcoming verse novel Chiara in the Dark. Her work has appeared in Strange HorizonsPodCastle, Daily Science Fiction, and other venues. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife. Visit her online at Maya Reads Books and on Twitter as @mayachhabra.