Art by Sereana Lindsay

Written by Maia Taylor

A wedding more beautiful was never seen
Than that of Martin Haywood and Penelope Green.
Her mother, crying, walked her down the aisle,
While chubby flower girls shuffled behind in single file.

It was her mother who reluctantly gave her away
On the loveliest, sunniest morning in May
It was almost as if you could hear their love sing,
When he said ‘I’ll make you my wife with this ring’.

In fact their bliss out shone the sun,
Their radiant joy evaded no-one
It was as if every hug and kiss they gave out
Made seeds of profound happiness sprout

And after their blissful wedding day,
When the cake was eaten, night not far away
Martin carried away his bride
And they forgot about their guests still dancing outside

Though her mother had warned her against life like this
The thought of it all filled her with bliss
All she had ever wanted from life,
Was a family: with all its glory and strife

To swim in the oceans and seas with her son
To watch her daughter dance and run
She wanted to build snow forts, and to fall asleep
With a baby on her chest, their breaths steady and deep

Martin and Penelope lived their first year in peace
With weekends in the country and a holiday in Greece
Until Penelope woke one night
Crying, lost in fear and fright.

Martin held her close to his chest
Even comforting his wife he felt he was blessed,
For everything she did made him love her more
And his love for her made him fly, made him soar.

When he tenderly asked her why she was crying,
All she said was she wished she was dying.
The nightmare had shaken her to her core
But she kissed him with the words ‘we’ll speak of it no more’
But when the dream came back, night after night
And he felt he was failing as her hero, her knight
Martin took her hand and said ‘Penelope, dear,
You must share your burden; you must share your fear.’

She couldn’t tell him the truth she knew
So she made up a story, something in lieu
She said she was dreaming of monsters and beasts,
Preparing her and her loved ones as feasts

The odd behaviour in her sleep
That caused her to cry, to moan, to weep
Was accompanied by a new found taste
That soon was explained by her growing waist.

Penelope was pregnant, it was crystal clear
The knowledge swept away the dreams, made her whoop and cheer
Martin cried (a little) with joy
He had always wanted a baby girl or boy

But as her belly grew her baby began to kick,
Her nightmares returned, making her sick
And when they found out it was a girl in her womb
Her face became ashen; she was consumed by her gloom

Martin would ask her what was wrong,
She would shake her head and sing him a song
Because she wouldn’t tell him that her mother had been right
She should have stayed away from him, from family out-right

But one night it was all too much,
It might have been his scent, his kiss, his touch,
She wasn’t aware before it was done
That she had lost control or that she had begun

And as she stood, soaked in blood and gore
The aching pain in her stomach was no more
In her womb her daughter danced with delight
Penelope’s dreams were laid out in plain sight

The walls were splattered with ruby red blood
It clung to her feet and her hands like mud
It was still warm and wet in her mouth
It repressed her desire to scream and to shout

The tears on her cheeks left two clean lanes
As they did their best to lament her pains
For though satisfaction and peace had claimed the child
Penelope was going crazy, to put it mild

She had eaten him up, every last bit
It wasn’t till now it finally fit
Her absent father, her mother’s tears
The wedding-reluctances confirmed all her fears

She called her mother that very same day
Her mother knew what had been coming her way
She had had the same dreams of eating her love
When he had held her close, his darling, his dove

And like her mother before her she had eaten him whole
Raw, no frying, no mince in a bowl
There was a savage hunger that ran in their genes
Their daughters wanted flesh from the world unseen

Penelope would have cried over the news
But her horror, her anger had begun to diffuse
Satisfaction and calmness had taken hold of her heart
And she knew she was an ending, a middle, a start.