Once, we were children in the forest. We were no Gretels.
We carried brooms to sweep our trails clean. No one could follow.
We gorged ourselves on bread, licked the crumbs from each other’s lips.
We slaughtered songs to pass the time. The woods were populous
enough. We would walk until numbness spread from feet to shins,
to our lolling heads. We’d fall into beds of needles, leaves,
velvet moss. We’d wake again and wander, our tromping steps
freed from our overseer’s odometer. We’d flown miles
from our begetters, fathers of brick, mothers of wicker.
Ever after, deep in the green slipped from the trees, we’d light
matches in the dark to keep watch, to warm our hands, to trace
in the spark and burn the outline of a familiar face.
Jennifer Perrine is the author of three books of poetry: No Confession, No Mass; In the Human Zoo; and The Body Is No Machine. Perrine’s recent poetry and fiction appears in Pleiades, Crazyhorse, Salt Hill, Literal Latte, and Valparaiso Fiction Review. Honors include the 2017 K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award, the 2016 Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Award, and the 2015 Bisexual Book Award for Poetry. For more information, visit www.jenniferperrine.org