“Resignation Syndrome” by Lynne Sargent

What of an apple:
Her lips, always red, always open;
Her eyes, always closed
away from the horror that has brought her here
to the land of snow angels,
away from the stepmother of civil war
to where they made the bombs.

What of a boy named Georgi:
His throat, pale and choked.
You sent the huntsman after him
to check his papers.

How would you hold this rejection?
How would you roll it through your teeth,
sluice it through them, let it caress
the yellowed pearls that are left?

He knows that soon it will taste like war again,
like gunpowder, like poisons that he cannot name
because there were no schools to teach him Chemistry
except that classroom of sky,
where the lessons are led by his burning lungs and the peeling boils of his gasping skin.

I suppose to you it only tastes like apple seeds.
Limp bodies are so much harder to carry than guilt.

And so you blame them. You say,
“Why did you not have the decency to get to rigor mortis?
Why are you not far away where I do not have to look at you?
You ugly girl, you ugly death.”

And here I thought you were good at looking in mirrors.

But I must be wrong, because you are still gazing at yourself
as you say,
“Send back the children!
Do not pop the seeds from their esophagi.
Do not show mercy.”

Later, you comment to your glass reflection,
You say
“Doesn’t the paleness of death
make them prettier?
They fit better when they are white.”

You bemoan a lack of space,
ignore the connection between the laces you threaded
and the shallowness of their breathing.
Now, you try to feed them apples
forgetting what their redness, their malus has always meant

You hope no princes see their bodies
hope the dwarves do not make their coffins out of glass
hope the Kings do not see your ugliness,
hope that they too are wicked.

Bio: Lynne Sargent is a writer, aerialist, and is currently working on her Ph.D in Applied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. She has been published in venues such as Strange Horizons, Twisted Moon Magazine, and Wild Musette, and was a 2018 Rhysling and 2018 Aurora Award Nominee. If you want to find out more, reach out to her on Twitter @SamLynneS. This poem is also available in this collection by the poet/author.

About this poem Lynne Sargent says, “ Inspired by this article on refugees in Sweden. The disease reminded me of many types of sleeping illnesses in fairytales, so this references the refugee plight through use of the fairytale “Snow White.”

Truancy 9, July 2021