February 15, 2022

Too Late or Never, By Stephanie Parent


When you're traveling east of the sun

And west of the moon

You’re always late

Racing against time

The elements and



There is no map but your body

And the marks upon it:


The raw red stripe across your wrist

Where the tallow seared you

Along with the lover you



The knots in your hair

Where the east and west and south

Winds whipped it round your face

Plastered it over your eyes

Till you were blind to all but

The storm whirring, stirring your



The blue burns where the north wind nearly

Dropped you in the cold, roiling ocean

And the water froze the tips of your



And still you clung to the back of the

Wind; you flew beyond the borders of the

World, guided only by the compass of your



Till you landed at the castle where your

Selfless love, your selfish wishes, your

Foolish errors all slept, together, waiting

For you to free them


Free him—your bear prince, brutal

Animal and gentle lover, the one you

Desired and the mirror image of



You had slept with this tender monster

Of your heart for so long

Believing yourself blind in

Darkness, not understanding

You needed no candlelight to see


You did not learn the truth

Till you had journeyed east of the sun

And west of the moon

To the castle at the end of the world


The truth—


Only you possess the power

To rescue him, to rescue you


To wash clean the old stains, mistakes, selfish

Foolish things you had to do, the trip

You had to take—


Only you


And so you should never have worried. No

Matter how long the journey, you

Would never be too


Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. Her poetry has been nominated for a Rhysling Award and Best of the Net.

Cover Design: Amanda Bergloff 


Unknown said...

I love this poem, its rhythm and flow are beautiful as is the imagery.

HulderMN said...

So vivid! Especially felt the all the different winds whipping her hair into tangles and knots.

Stephanie Ascough said...

This...is one of the most profound poems, rife with imagery. I want to print this and put it on my desk. Thank you!

Stephanie Ascough said...

The more I read this, the more I'm in awe. Truly a poem torn from the heart.

Stephanie Parent said...

Thank you so much for all the kind comments. They mean so much to me!!!