by Alethea Eason
You’ve given birth to four raucous children
fathered by the Wolf Lord of this forest
where trees watch day and night.
You still fit in the cape of your childhood,
the one you wore when you first entered the woods.
Your mother has forgotten she sent you out alone.
Apple trees have invaded from another forest
where equally grim occurrences have occurred.
The food your grandmother didn’t eat has never
rotted in your basket. You see her face preserved
on your youngest, the only girl, her father’s favorite.
The middle boy was a mistake, but he’s the child
who has your heart, more boy than canine, quick
to laughter. The twins, who are the oldest,
are like the moon and the sun. Each inherited
one of their father’s two dispositions.
After all these years, you are still perplexed
at your husband’s different faces. At night,
his teeth grow longer, his eyes grow bigger.
He is cantankerous with insomnia. In the day,
he takes naps in Grandma’s gown, his demeanor
softer like an ancient German Shepherd.
Your husband is growing old. He no longer
stalks those who are lost. He has settled down.
The children do more of the hunting.
Your daughter has just made her first kill.
You feast with the shame your mother instilled.
You blame the dark hours inside your husband’s stomach,
crowded with the naked body of Nana as you held
to her old teats and sought comfort.
There is a troll who lives in a tree at the heart
of the woods, getting on in years as well.
He has always disturbed you, but you’ve learned
to trust his advice. He often brings mushrooms
to enhance your dinners. He told you once you
live in a tale inside a book of many tales.
* * * * *
Alethea's has recently been published in El Palacio, the Magazine of the Museum of New Mexico. She released the novel Whispers of the Old Ones (young-adult magical realism) in April. She is currently working on the Opened Earth Poetry Series. The Mermaid Lucia and Rainmaker, the first two chapbooks in the series, are available on Amazon.