No Grimms, Andersen or Beatrix Potter
I remember a four-year old
with Athena eyes
who didn’t wish me to read
from a favourite book
at bedtime; at mid-day
demanded stories to emerge whole
from my thought-entangled head.
I’m still unclear, when with sweeps
she painted a field-leaping horse
without a rider, if I should’ve set
a fiction on its golden back?
When she recited, dead fish were dead
and she’d never eat a thing from the dark ocean,
should I’ve lured her with a sea narrative?
I let serpents stand for omens of goodness,
journeys into black as footpaths toward light.
To my adventures’
slithery morals and disabled plotlines,
she stared up from behind the divan
out from under the stairwell
urging another fantasy.
One day I departed, walking
straight down the perennial path
out the child-resistant gate, not to look back.
A few passing words seemed kindest.
Ten years eclipsed.
Again I stood in an entrance,
struck another home’s door;
my suitcase anxious with gifts,
volumes of journeyed words.
In the sun-touched front room,
curtains splayed, I waited
till at the wheeze of jeans
and tea-shirt a girl entered
with flashing eyes:
who was this visitor
and where’d he come from?