You have no shovel, so you forage in the cupboards
to find only a plastic fork and two knives. So
is this what it feels like in those fairy tales
where the girl is sentenced to labor after impossible
labor, before being granted access and social mobility?
What the villain/ess doesn’t understand: the girl
was born in a third world country, where she learned
to shampoo and bathe with a scant pailful of water,
where snacks are a euphemism for all the inventive
ways one might use every part of the animal for food.
Stables, lions, sky-darkening hordes of birds? You
got nothin’ on me, Hercules
; and isn’t a deus ex machina
just another name for cheating? Your parents
have to work in the fields. Or they are sick,
missing, dead. Try dandling your new baby brother
on one hip while feeding your two-year old sister
when you’re only five. Try taking them out
into the avenue to weave through traffic, splay
begging fingers against the tinted window glass
of cars. Shred after shred layers the years;
petulance and bad temper are so unnecessary.
They will not make the miracle you pray for—
only stubborn patience, the improv work of your hands
as you make a hollow in the gravelly soil deep enough
for this plant you have brought to take root and grow.

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