Today's poem is by Charles Martin
A Happy Ending for the Lost Children
One of their picture books would no doubt show
The two lost children wandering in a maze
Of anthropomorphic tree limbs: the familiar crow
Swoops down upon the trail they leave of corn,
Tolerant of the error of their ways.
Hand in hand they stumble onto the story,
Brighteyed with beginnings of fever, scared
Half to death, yet never for a moment
Doubting the outcome that had been prepared
Long in advance: Girl saves brother from oven,
Appalling witch dies in appropriate torment;
Her hoarded treasure buys them their parents' love.
"As happy an ending as any fable
Can provide," squawks the crow, who had expected more:
Delicate morsels from the witch's table.
It's an old storyin the modern version
The random children fall to random terror.
You see it nightly on the television:
The yellow tape that winds its way around
The lop-eared bear, the plastic ukulele, shattered
In a fit of ragelost children now are found
In the first place where we would think to look:
Under the fallen leaves, under the scattered
Pages of a lost children's picture book.
But if we leave terror waiting in the rain
For the wrong bus, or if we have terror find,
At the very last moment the right train,
Only to get off at the wrong station
If we for once imagine a happy ending,
Which is, as always, a continuation,
It's because the happy ending's a necessity,
It isn't just a sentimental ploy
Without the happy ending there would be
No one to tell the story to but the witch,
And the story is clearly meant for the girl and boy
Just now about to step into her kitchen.
Copyright © 2003 Charles Martin All rights reserved
from The Poets' Grimm, edited by Jeanne Marie Beaumont & Claudia Carlson
Story Line Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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