Kinder- und Hausmärchen
Liegt in dem Märchen meiner Kinderjahre
Als in der Wahrheit, die das Leben lehrt.
--- Friedrich Schiller
lies in the fairy tales of my childhood
than in the truth that life teaches.
Saint Nikolaus had a giant gunny sack
to put the children in if they were bad.
It was a hole so deep you'd never come back.
A porch swing full of stories, where the smoke
went up in hot, concentric, perfect rings
and filled our heads with unbelievable things.
A nursery heavy with a history
where nothing was whatever it had seemed,
where Aschenputtel's sisters cut their feet
half off --- so desperate they were to fit.
And in the end, they also lost their eyes
when steel-grey birds descended from the skies.
Rotkäppchen's wolf was someone that she knew,
who wooed her with a man's words in the woods.
But she escaped. It always struck me most
how Grandmother, whose world was swallowed whole,
leapt fully formed out of the wolf alive.
Her will came down the decades to survive
in mine --- my heart still desperately believes
the stories where somebody re-conceives
herself, emerges from the hidden belly,
the warring home dug deep inside the city.
We live today those stories we were told.
Es war einmal im tiefen tiefen Wald.
Kinder- und Hausmärchen: original title of Grimm's Fairy Tales
Es war einmal im tiefen tiefen Wald: Once upon a time in the deep deep wood.
Poetry, Dec. 1999