Erlking in the Looking Glass

"Dear father, oh father, he seizes my arm!
The Erlking, father, has done me harm. ∼Johann Wolfgang Goethe

I cannot restore what has been broken
my daughter
I saw him look away from me
as the train eased out of the station
and your child’s eyes stared at a hand
waving goodbye

as I did when you were small
and fragile, like a dragonfly’s gauze wings
so easily crushed when someone
is in a hurry to grasp a tree limb
to prevent ankles snapping
and the fall into the bog

I saw him look away from me
and in my rush to save you
from shattering
into countless glass fragments
I failed to look in my Liberty mirror
and check if the signal was green.

I cannot restore what has been broken
my daughter, she is gone
Small daisy wheel dots spelt return
on my ticket, the imprint never fades
he burnt hers and stole
her passport back to your arms

And that ashen smile as he looked away
from me, gave birth to Cerberus.
It snaps at your Achilles
each time I see your frozen face
looking out from an observation ward
at a ghost child welded to my hip
and I wave goodbye again.

©Talia Hardy 2015.

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