Girl Upon a Time
by Leonore Hildebrandt
Sky is a woven rug, a measured opening––
a “window,” from wind eye.
Hinges are smooth as ligaments,
and her fingers leave oily prints.
You may wear this tale
like a hat, a wondrous little hat
from the pelt of a mouse.
A canopy of swallows. The river’s steep banks.
The girl runs with the boys, then hides
in sprawling hedges––beech and rhododendron.
She knows a place to slip into––
lower the bridge, walk the sheep and fox,
cows and knights in procession to the fields.
The moat deepens. Look, poor Rapunzel’s
long braids uncoil from the sill.
The girl is looking under leaves
for mice and spiders.
She rips her sandwich for the dogs,
calls them her strays.
On a narrow sidewalk,
a little hairy man blocks her way
with his scales and knives.
She tries to run, sand sucks at her feet,
she stumbles, falls into the air's updraft––
her dress spreads like a sheet.
A girl is a cloud of dust.
In the yard, metal posts are sunk into holes.
On rainy days, they fill with water and bugs.
She hears of storm petrels, lit as lamps––
oily flames mounted on sticks, a wick shoved down the throat.
Things one cannot pronounce another way.
Clamor in the street––voracious brooms
suck in leaves and garbage.
The many worlds are falling––the seven brothers,
three sisters. She hides, counts her fingers.
This is the dry tongue of utterance.
But the second son still goes out into the world
to learn about fear. At night,
bronzed in smoke, the seven ravens return.
The girl slips through a fence.
She is falling toward the upon-time,
against the luminous wind eye.
Her dress is woven into the sky.
In the sallow wax of morning, street lamps are bright nebulae.
The window’s stern eyes relent to swirls and river snails.
Worms bore holes,
scattered in the wooden frame.
She blows the dust, pulls up her hair.
* * * * *
"Girl Upon a Time" was first published in SWWIM, 23 October 2017 and is part of Leonore Hildebrandt's new collection Where You Happen to Be, (Deerbrook Editions, 2018)
Leonore Hildebrandt, https://leonorehildebrandt.com/, is the author of The Work at Hand, The Next Unknown, and Where You Happen to Be. Her poems and translations have appeared in The Cafe Review, Cerise Press, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine, and spends the winter near Silver City. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of Beloit Poetry Journal.