Stories

I close my eyes, and you are children again:
asleep then waking in one room to rooster
crow, sharing blankets made unruly

in the night. I have a photograph in which
all of you are reading, a long body pillow
spread across all of your laps, a book

open in each pair of hands: in one story,
the pancake has run away from the hungry
mouths gathered around the table; or is it

a cookie in the shape of a boy, which later
gets eaten up by the animal that volunteers
to ferry it across the river, to imagined

safety? I don’t remember this thing you
insist now: how it was I that taught you
no one can be trusted, not even the warm

closeness of your own gut breathing hard
from trying to run away, or to find a way.
What I remember is I tried to teach you

to listen, keep your eyes open, learn
how the flicker of any epiphany is slight
as a bird, and quicker of wing. Everything

is instruction, especially when the lesson
can’t be neatly laid out on paper. Industry
picks up the chairs overturned by the child,

mops up the porridge trails that dripped
from spoons and the rims of bowls.
One bed is lumpy; the other is hard.

All have linens that at some point have
to be washed. The fox eats the bread— or
the cookie. Or is that the one where the wolf

eats the girl? No, she is smarter, younger,
she knows how to redden her lips and cheeks. She
makes an ally of the huntsman. The wolf gets

the she-crone, the grandmother, the woman who now
lives all alone by herself. Nights she strikes a match
to the stove, to the kindling in the hearth. A flame

leaps up like a tongue, like a flicker of something
bright come back to roost. Where wood meets town,
a hungry girl holds out her hands to stop the river

of milk and porridge. Knee-deep in such thick bounty,
and she cannot remember the words to make it do her
bidding; she cannot remember enough to make it stop.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Letter to the UnderneathFlickers →

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