Today's poem is by Seth Abramson


                                    At the store I bought
two stories, the one true and the other
almost true. Almost true: the way it goes is
she wears a red hood ostensibly for riding
as she tramples the darkest peat
on her way to Grandmother's house. In fact
as she arrives she realizes it is not the house
she knows but the house her
                                cloistered god lives in,
where the overgrowth is blooming high
and the door is, natch, locked. Her great sobs

and tiny raised fists and tiny flutter of a heart
scare an entire cloakroom of bats
                        from the forest canopy.
The way it goes—and this is almost true—
is a boy and a girl in green Bavarian jammies
follow the same well-trampled peat
into the same bat-dark overhang of branches.
There (but to the west of Grandmother's
house) is a cottage made up entirely of treats
and lucky for them the door is unlocked. Yes—

unlocked. Inside this too-true-to-be-good
candygram dwelling is the witch, oven, et al.
So goes that version. The truth is uncanny
because everything one might think false
            is true
jammies, gingerbread, wizardess, kitchen.
It's the oven, you see—owned not by a cult
which menus out children from the bark
of a forest headquarters, but a famished,
shambling god who requires a sacrifice a day.
The witch is terrified but she knows
the score: in go the children. So nothing no
nothing will ever get the girl to God's house,
or keep the boy and girl from God's oven.
Nothing will evict a woman and her young
from God's old shoe, or return to God that
tuffet he lost. There is a wood and only one
          wood for too many
millions of stories to count. A supernatural

and only one supernatural in the same peat-
trampled wood every red hood
ostensibly for riding has ever bobbed inside,
and every mewling kid goes the same way in
and the same way out, every doting mother,
every lady laid out vulnerable to elements,
          all of them traveling toward
that same boarded storehouse of well-being
none will ever arrive at, enter into, consume,

inhabit, their stories told in the shape of a lie,
because they are lived, too, in the shape of a lie.

Copyright © 2007 Seth Abramson All rights reserved
from Beloit Poetry Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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