Harold and the Blood-Red Crayon

This tale has no happy ending, no return
to safe harbor and warm bed. Harold picked
the wrong crayon, color of gore, of living tissue
damaged and torn, and he drew nightmares
on the skin of the world until the point
of the crayon broke and the jagged edges
wore down, an old mountain
in miniature, a story told too often
as the corners of the book foxed away
to nothing. Now Harold whispers to half-asleep
children, reminding them that their parents
will die, their pets will die, the world will burn
and all the pictures, even the truest, reddest kind,
will vanish in ashes. He makes a line
between heaven and earth, sketches the curve
of a moon forever crescent, stuck behind
a leafless tree where a dragon has eaten
the last apple, and leaks flames from its nostrils
as it dreams of everything’s end. Harold curls
in the scaly curve of its tail, and smiles.

—Jennifer Crow