Aladdin's Curse

The first time I talked to the genie,
really talked,
not ordered
or commanded,
I must admit, I was not expecting much.
I lay on some cushions,
gold embroidered, of course,
and did all the talking
at first. After all,
what could he possibly have to say?
But after a while,
I grew tired of my own voice.
I was the one with nothing to say.
A man who has everything has nothing to do.
The genie began to speak, and
I listened.
He wove a tale as rich and colorful as a carpet.
Each sentence added another thread.
I wept
and smiled
and wept again.
The last story he told
was of a slave girl,
a girl with green eyes and slender wrists
and hair that fell past her waist, a girl
so beautiful she held sunbeams and starlight
and the genie’s heart
in her gaze. A girl
who belonged in another life.
The master lost everything,
and summoned the genie
and ordered him
to sell the girl at the market.
In his human form,
he led her by hand through the crowd.
The first time he touched her
was to give her away.
I wept more at this story
than at any other.
I cried out, Why,
how, can you stand this?
I picked up that lamp,
the one I now thought of
as an instrument of torture.
The genie gave me a smile
that was gentle and bitter and had seen the world.
We all have cages, he replied. What’s yours?





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