Gretel Again

Gretel Again

Lost herself on deertrails
and rabbit trails winding through
stands of snagged branches,
gloomy hemlock and witchwood
saplings, toadstool-strewn, the sort
of woods favoring cool pockets,
fragrant hollows bushy with rhododendron,
geography redolent with the ether of myth
and history seeped through the pores
like a sap. She places, so ginger,
a sole 
rolled to flat-footed in front
of the other, barely-progress amounting
incrementally to eke 
a murky way
between finger-like roots and burrows
of creatures who creep. Crevices
tempt with capacity and she dreams
herself sufficiently small to curl
within and rest. Waking where
darkness hollers: screech
owl-maybe, wishes she’d paid
closer 
attention, wonders what school
has given of use after all, what specific
implements of navigation or leverage
for the situation, what physics relative
to this something short of a trail. Thinks
of books back home, heavy trove
shelved square in place to squared walls,
and she, here, flung, flying  through snatches of stars,
brushy 
glimmers of a sky so vast, black and blue,
and swirling, its impossibility loses her wind.
Those remembered tomes tote ballast of sorts
to catch breath once more and, taking a step
forward, consider a 
multitude of heroines
well-wrought and writ to a T, finished,
pressed and bound
 with cloth and leather
and tresses of their own hair. Ingénues
both callow and scripted. She envies them
their castles for starters, their fabulous
duds or not so fancy but period, surely,
gifted in token by some monarch or author.
Those girls in and of themselves
retrospective of little, heroines regardless,
by what not-quite-womanly magics
still surviving, seemingly forever after
thrusting an older generation into oven or wolf
of precocious ingenuity, if convenient
occasion, despite mistakes with breadcrumbs,
weak character, epochs of hesitation or outright
slumber. The outrage! She stumbles, spluttering,
ungame for the current narrative, left to devices
of shift and typeface, exhausted by threadbare dilemma,
urgent with clumsy imagination in avenues of not-even
rumored footsteps,
 palimpsest of conundrum
and choice, all alien, terrestrial, other. Betimes
her own limbs
, branching, thrust down, forfeit
walking, take root and climb deeper.

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