Chani Zwibel (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Chani Zwibel (she/her/hers) is originally from Elizabeth, a small town in rural Western Pennsylvania. She now lives and writes just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of Cave Dreams to Star Portals, Star Portals to Cash Registers, Cash Registers to Cave Dreams, and Circles of Roses Forever. She has been published in numerous publications online and in print. Connect at chanizwibel on Instagram and/or Chani Zwibel on Facebook.



(inspired by the Grimm’s fairy tales, The Singing Bone and The Juniper Tree)

Bits of bone, no epitaph, a random rough stone, a spindly tree, a broken jaw, open socket roots, a bracket of bicuspids

Lovely white bones, lily-white bones, little scattered white bones, gathered in a handkerchief, laid in a shallow grave under the favored tree, the moniker of the body forgotten, 

A fluttering of wings and a stirring of the earth, the smallest bones coming to light, poking through the ground, the perfect shape for a flute, or appearing in the tree as a bird singing a song that will not be denied.




(inspired by several Grimm’s fairytales: Fitcher’s Bird, Bluebeard, The Castle of Murder)

She has the key, a key the size of her pinky finger, she but doesn’t dare open the door. The key is the only way in or out. No light shines out from the keyhole. It is a dark little envelope. She is afraid of the room but doesn’t know why. Yet it calls her. She opens every door in the castle. The keys jingle in her apron pocket, metal muffled by linen. She passes the forbidden room she can’t stop thinking about. Don’t open, said her handsome lord. She wants to open. She has the key, the key the size of her small finger bone; she dares at last to open the door.

A coppery smell all over the red room, a copper basin full of crimson blood. A porcelain bathtub full of white, dead flesh, arms and legs, floating in blood. Blood running down the greasy walls, bits of hair and brain on the wall, a clutch of skulls grinning, gap-toothed jaws open wide with final screams.

She runs from the room, but before she can, one drop of blood, one little rusty stain, marks the tip of the key where she turned it in the lock, where she broke the scarlet seal to the bloody red room. And her heart turns as black, as blue-black as lord’s long beard.

She knows she’ll join her sisters soon.




Break the blue wax seal. Remove the parchment from the envelope. Read the flowing script. See where the writer blotted the black ink. Breathe in the scent left on the page, his tobacco-whiskey-leather-clove, her lavender-rose-powder-mint. Each word is a fiery revelation, an ecstasy of messages in-coming. Each word is a baptism, a submersion in the coldest lake water, clear and bracing, life-affirming. Each word is a green shoot bursting up through damp earth in early spring, a calling-forth from the grave, a resurrection miraculous, the heavy stone rolled aside. Each word is a zephyr, a breath of the Spirit, a still-small voice, a honeysuckle-scented breeze, a prayer so intimate the angels repeat it in dove-soft whispers. The deep blue wax of the seal sliced with the silver letter-opener is a message of dusk. The envelope and the parchment, bits of dusk and paper. The ink, a promise of how dark the coming night. The words, every word, a psalm of dusk. 


1 comment :

  1. Wonderfully creative, I appreciate the first the most.


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