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Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in the deep of the forest. By herself. No one lived near her for miles and miles and miles. In fact, she wouldn’t have known what you meant by “no one” – she’d never seen a thing like herself.


And even though she was just a little girl she had great skills. She grew all her own food. She knew how to make a fire to keep herself warm in the winter. She made and mended her own clothes. The little girl does not know how she knows how to do these things. She doesn’t know where her house came from. Or where the cloth, the beds, the pots, the pans – she doesn’t know where any of it came from.


If the little girl could see herself she would notice the days and months and years passing but she never seems to change. Never seems to grow. Of course, she doesn’t know that she is supposed to do these things.


Sometimes other creatures come near to the house. But they never bother her or the things she is growing. The fruit and the vegetables. She is a vegetarian although she would not know that word. It would never occur to her to kill and cook and eat one of the rare creatures that stop near her home.


The little girl never leaves the yard. She has everything she needs. Is she lonely, this little girl? No, not really, she’s never had anyone around as far as she can remember.


In the house are books. She looks at them but doesn’t know what they mean. When she looks at the pictures, though, she can understand – perhaps there are others like her. But she doesn’t know them. There are also bundles of paper with markings on them in the desk in the parlor. These look nothing like the marks in the book – all swirling and twirling and hopeless to decipher. There are no pictures.


The girl wears a blue dress with with a white sash and a white lace collar. She wears black patent leather maryjanes with white socks. Every day. Every day this is what she wars. The dress and socks and shoes are always clean and mended and tended to. She does this at night in her secret room.


At night she wears a simple sleep suite, white top and white knickers. Although over time they’ve been worn to the color of the mushrooms that grow under the trees.


But the dress remains bright and clean. Her hair is always braided down her back tied with a blue ribbon. Before bed she takes it down and brushes her hair one hundred times. Every night she does this.


Her hair is black as coal and shines with the stars she can see from her sleeping room. Her eyes are dark and blue as midnight.




Every hundred years

Just as I grow so old that I must die

I go to the water

Before the dog barks, I plunge into the

dark-cold depths of the lake.



The crown of my head reaches

Reaches through the water’s surface

Nose, mouth clear I gasp for air

Life, youth restored.


At the water’s edge I weep for my lost lives.




Everyone knows the lyrics to that song.


Do they?


Widowed bride?

Refused to yield?

What was revealed?

The music died.


Who told you about her?

No one.


I can’t remember the lyrics.
Not now.


I thought she was Jackie.

The widowed bride.

Blood, brain matter

Ruining pink Chanel.


Second grade

She said

“The President is dead.”


Anyway it wasn’t Jackie.

She’s not there.




At the window

an insect caught in a spider’s web

nothing short of absurdity I can do

to save it




Not to be outdone, Miranda shaved her head and got a tattoo of a black swan with a red beak and red feet. Not to be outdone.




For a time I thought she was going to do it. I thought she really meant to leave, to get on with her life plans. It did not happen that way. Sheila stayed. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? No one knew. She seemed pretty content.


No I did not take the job in San Francisco. Too far. Too different. My life, such as it is, is here, she thought. So life’s plan change.




Shall you and they come to see me when I am in the country? She wishes very much that she could join you but alas the times do not permit such excursions. The times and the money.




By the light of the fire they sing their songs. And tell their tales. They have no writing or reading. They have only their songs and their tales.


There are five of them. Mother and father and three strong sons. Where did they come from?


They can’t say. As far as they know, as far as they remember, they have always been there. Yet their stories and songs tell of other places and other peoples.




We then thanked the minister for all he had done to make this day a reality. How could we not? For it was he who unmasked the sinister plot to take over St Matthew’s parish and send all the young men begging in the streets. Begging for what little change the poor residents could spare. For they too had been hard hit by the catastrophe that faced us all. Not a family had been missed. All fell into the clutches of the cruel hand of fate.




My nephew shot a goose. The next day my mother died. The funeral was on a Monday. My brother said she wasn’t the dying kind.


It was dark when we left. Driving from Kentucky to Florida. I played with Mr. Potato Head in the back of the station wagon. In Florida I saw fire in the woods. No one told me what was on fire when I asked.


The windows in our house were all shattered when we got home. At the funeral dad told me that it was hooligans – nothing to do with the protests. That time when we picketed the segregated amusement park.


Sometime – sometime in 1960 I guess. It think we saw JFK, Senator Kennedy at an airport in Cincinnati. Maybe – I was three and a half – maybe not.


That was a long time ago. And she’d changed. A betrayal.




I can’t be your ex-girlfriend if I never was your girlfriend.


Have you always been this way? Have I always been what way? You know, the way your are? I haven’t ever been anyway. What do you mean by that? I haven’t ever been any particular way is what I mean.




Maximum leverage. Physics of the dead.

The weight of the empty. Empty weight.

All that has been forged in fire.


Maximum leverage. Physics of the empty.

The weight of the dead. Dead weight.

Forged in fire.


The fire burns the meadow. It burned all that might and was.

Melting in the dark.

Charred remains of nothing ever worthwhile.

Innocence found in the dark, melting.


Maximum leverage. Physics of the dead.

The weight of the empty. Empty weight.

All that has been forged in fire.


I have picked some violets for you my dear. Again.

It was Sunday. And we must have been Spring? Yes.

I picked violets for you.


The violets burned in the meadow.

And you melted under the willow tree.


Maximum leverage. Physics of the empty.

The weight of the dead. Dead weight.

Forged in fire.