The Cardinal Juniper Tree

(It was very popular throughout history to use stepmothers as an antagonist and never as a helpful character for many stories, which I feel gives stepmothers’ a bad rap. I decided to take the Grimm Fairytale The Juniper Tree and turn it on its head. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.)

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Our story begins with a wealthy man,

A man named Adan,

And Juniper, his handsome wife.

They had everything they wanted in life,

Everything but their progeny.

 

They prayed and begged God constantly,

And on one such a day Juniper,

Who was in an emotional tipper,

Sat beneath their juniper tree,

“I beseech thee,

If I were to have my child,

I want them to be as red as blood,

And their skin to be white as snow.”

For many moons, their hearts were low.

 

She then suddenly fell ill,

And her skin grew chill.

She had a wish to fulfill

That if her heart grew still,

He was to bury her under the tree.

So he agreed to the solemn decree.

 

After eight months of his wife’s strife,

He expected there to be death,

But instead, there was life.

A birth; a healthy baby boy, his skin snow white.

The wife was happy, but happy snuffed out her light.

Adan honored his wife and buried her,

Under the juniper,

Then sought for his infant son, Aaron, a new Mother.

 

Then came a woman, whom had a little girl;

She captivated the man with a smile of pearl.

She was as fresh as a flowing river,

And her name was Piper.

It was her to whom he remarried,

Hoping that because she had borne and carried,

That she would love his son.

 

Thankfully, she did love and cherish Aaron,

And she held him like her own baby,

So for many years, they were happy.

But, Piper’s past haunted and hunted,

It was one that killed her first husband –

A treacherous family full of witches and many an evil sorcerer,

But only one was left – an envious sister.

 

Piper never wanted harm or evil in her path,

And for this, she suffered her family’s wrath,

Until one day, they were struck down by holy water and fire,

All but one to Piper’s ire.

Cierra, angered by Piper’s survival,

Made herself Piper’s ultimate rival.

 

She scared off many a potential lover,

That is until one was brave and married her,

The one who gave her a daughter,

A gorgeous baby named Ester.

Alas, he was no match for the evil magic,

And his death was tragic.

 

But Adan, protected by some unseen power,

Made Cierra shake, quiver, and shudder.

But discouraged, she was not.

In her anger and envy, she devised a plot.

 

She summoned and commanded a venomous snake,

“Slither you shall, my words not forsake,

To sneak in, softer than a whisper,

To the marriage bed of my sister.

There you will bite her dainty toe,

And bring upon her a great woe.

For her death it shall be.

Oh how so very happy I will be!”

 

The snake left her house and crawled through the garden,

He was at the wall to the window,

His presence he did not bellow,

Though he did not see Aaron.

But Aaron and Ester saw him,

And were filled with dread.

 

With a rock across the head,

Aaron struck the snake,

Even with fear he could not shake.

He saved his stepmother

And foiled the evil spell-writer.

Proud, was his father,

When he saw Aaron’s brave deed,

But Piper was filled with fear, indeed.

 

She knew her sister’s hate naught cede,

So suspicion grew in her heavy heart,

And she prayed that Cierra would not tear her family apart.

Enraged at her failure,

Cierra took a more drastic measure.

 

A swarm of bees, with stingers painful and deadly,

Came to Cierra’s aid – she thought herself positively machiavelli.

She commanded the bees to swarm and kill Piper,

But Piper was prepared for her sister.

When she heard the thunderous buzz in the air,

She knew to prepare.

 

She placed a ring of catnip, thick and plenty,

Around her home carefully.

When they were upon her doorframe,

She set the ring aflame.

The smoke chased away the bees,

So Cierra destroyed them a swift as a disease.

 

“Every attempt has failed! Why can’t she die?!”

Cierra was enraged, and but created another plan so sly,

She knew she could not fail.

“Disguised as a housemaid, small and frail,

I’ll enter her home undetected,

And when she does not expect it,

I shall strike and take her place!”

 

So she stole a maid’s dress and face,

And entered into her sister’s house.

She spoke to no one, was quiet as a mouse,

If she did, her ruse would falter.

And she refused to be denied her slaughter.

 

In no time at all, Cierra found Piper,

And the woman did not detect the trickster,

Until it was already too late.

“I call upon my wells of hate,

And turn you into a weevil!”

 

Cierra turned Piper into a beetle.

She raised her foot and tried to squash her sister,

But she was faster and cleverer,

And escaped to the Juniper Tree.

 

“No mere tree will protect you from me!”

She casted her spell, aiming to kill Piper,

Cierra was finally going to kill her!

But the spell

Was dispelled,

Much to the witch’s disbelief,

Before it could touch a leaf.

 

Because Piper was saved

From the witch crazed,

By the spirit of the first wife,

Who after her first life,

Became the tree she was buried under.

 

“You can hide here.” She said to Piper,

And shielded Piper under her protective branches,

“Here me, wicked witch, trespass and you will be ashes.”

The witch drew back, silent and stunned.

 

The first wife replied, “Away with your desires rotund!

You have lost again this day!

Away I say! Away, away!”

 

The witch withdrew, and Piper wept.

“Forgive me, my children, whom I cannot protect!

Be brave, be swift, be sly!

Believe not one lie!”

 

The witch, despite her kill denied,

Cackled, “No more she is a bride!

Her place I will take!

Her voice and face I shall fake,

And wait patiently

For the man, happily,

To die, so his fortune mine.

And rebuild my family divine!”

 

A spirit, who hated her, cackled.

She huffed, baffled.

“What say you, foul specter?”

It laughed, “I shall be your fortune teller,

A fortune you shan’t gather,

As long as her stepbrother

Still has a heart that goes pitter-patter.”

 

The witch grew enraged,

Once again, her ambitions were caged.

Undeterred, she created a plot.

“The son he has shall rot,”

She replied,

“Because I shall commit filicide!

His death it shall be,

Or for his life he shall flee!

His stepsister, bountiful

And oh so powerful,

Shall be my progeny

And bring me my true victory!”

 

With this, she treated the son poorly,

She beat him severely.

Quite regularly,

She hissed,

And cursed his existence.

She placed frogs in his bed,

And often he only ate a crust of bread.

 

Alas, his father could not see,

For bewitched was he.

His stepsister had not the power

To overthrow their fake mother,

So slowly did his life did wither.

One day, a humble request from Ester,

For an apple from a chest.

 

Happily, the evil witch fulfilled the request,

But when Aaron asked the same,

She sneered at him in disdain.

She commanded him to get his own,

And when his head breached the rim alone,

Is when she saw his gravestone.

 

Slam!

 

Bam!

 

The lid closed on his neck,

And his skin did break,

Off went his head,

And sadly, he was dead.

 

Her mission complete,

She separated bone from meat,

Set on making a delicious treat,

And put him in a bewitched stew.

 

“When this grand spell is through,

Your dear father will not remember you!”

 

The evil witched cackled and laughed,

But dear Ester cried unabashed.

When her fake mother was distracted,

She took the bones extracted,

And buried them under the tree Juniper Tree.

 

“I don’t know what shall become of me,

But I hope, at least, you shall find peace.”

After, her tears did she cease,

For if the fake mother knew,

Ester would become the next stew.

 

After supper had been eaten,

And Ester’s dear brother forgotten,

A wallowing mist, unnaturally misbegotten,

Rolled through to the tree,

And from it, a bird sprung free!

Red and white were its feathers,

And a song mournful and tragic in equal measure,

Sprung forth from its beak.

 

As it soared, it spoke a story most bleak,

Through every house and every street,

To every layman and every elite,

About the witch’s self-suffrage of deceit,

And of the boy’s tragic fate.

 

“Tricked, his boy for supper he ate,

The boy now forgotten now is he,

With his stepmother taken by a witch, was she!

Oh, woe was he,

And oh woe is me!”

 

Entranced were three by this wordsmith,

A shoemaker, a miller, and a goldsmith.

From the goldsmith, a golden chain.

From the shoemaker pretty red shoes, did the bird gain,

And from the miller a stone to grind grain.

 

“Here me, sorrowful bird!”

Cried the last and third,

“Drop this upon the witch’s head,

And it will be she on her deathbed!”

 

The bird accepted each gift,

And back to the house, he made it swift.

The shoes he gave to Ester,

And the chain he gave to the Father.

When it came for the evil fake mother,

She was outside, and complained of blood of fire.

 

“I feel in my blood the brimstone and coals of hell!”

When she was near, the stone fell.

“On your skin and your soul it shall be as well!”

Cried the bird as the millstone,

Heavy and harder than bone,

Struck the witch upon the head,

But only her disguise fell dead.

 

The spell over the father

Died and withered,

And in anger and rage, he attacked her.

“You killed my son,

And for this your death shall be done!”

 

Despite his stature,

Greater was her power.

“Fool!” She cried,

“The road to Hell I shall not ride,

But the road to heaven

For you shall beckon!”

 

Her spell sprung forward with unending aggression,

But it was Piper the Beetle who stopped its progression,

Though her life would be forfeit,

She did so with no regret.

 

At the show of unending love, loyalty,

Courage, and humility,

God reached forwards with his finger,

And bestowed upon her,

Her human form and great power.

 

Baffled and scared,

The witch demurred,

“My sister!

Please, grant upon me mercy!

And no more death or controversy

Shall I bring to your life and house!”

 

Piper stood stout, “You are a louse!

You harm my children and spouse,

You do nothing but chouse,

And yet you expect mercy from my house?

Nay, it is your death I call for,

And trouble you shall make no more!”

 

With her power strong and known,

Piper raised the millstone

Struck her sister,

And killed her.

 

Her body, broken and bloody, disappeared

As an impregnable mist appeared.

To it, the bird flew,

And from it, the boy came through.

“Through grace of God, our son lives again!

It is the end of evil’s reign,

Come to my arms, my brave little boy!”

 

Aaron ran to his stepmother, singing in joy,

And his mother, the Juniper Tree,

Watched them as they happily

Lived, grew, and died,

Before her life too did subside,

And joined them in the heavenly city,

Where they enjoyed the rest of eternity.

This poem is about: 
Our world

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