Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Obedience, or the Lying Tale

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Obedience, or the Lying Tale

Article excerpt

I will do everything you tell me, Mother.

I will charm three gold hairs

from the demon's head.

I will choke the mouse that gnaws

an apple tree's roots and keep its skin

for a glove. To the wolf, I will be

pretty and kind, and curtsy

his crossing of my path.

The forest, vocal

even in its somber tread, rages.

A slope ends in a pit of foxes

drunk on rotten brambles of berries,

and the raccoons ransack

a rabbit's unmasked hole.

What do they find but a winter's heap

of droppings? A stolen nest, the cracked shell

of another creature's child.

I imagine this is the rabbit way,

and I will not stray, Mother,

into the forest's thick,

where the trees meet the dark,

though I have known misgivings

of light as a hot hand that flickers

against my neck. The path ends

at a river I must cross. I will wait

for the ferryman

to motion me through. …

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