Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Better to Eat Us With"

[Please enjoy this poem by Jessica Fox-Wilson from her debut collection, Blameless Mouth.  You can read my review of Blameless Mouth in the post immediately following this.]

Better to Eat Us With

I am the granddaughter who wears the red
wool cloak, braves the knotted heart
of the black forest to deliver you warm rye bread
and make certain you are still alive.  I survived

the darkest places, where willows grow curled
and hollow as clutching hands and
hundreds of glowing yellow blink back
at me, from inside prickly mulberry bushes,

only to arrive much too late.  I can see this now
in the hungry yellow eyes and dripping jowls
in front of me.  His hot panting breath curls
the loose tendrils on my bare neck and I know

I must make a new choice.  Grandmother,
I spent my childhood in your kitchen, mixing
your recipes, kneading your dough.  Your daughter,
my mother, has taught me well.  Feed others

before feeding myself.  Listen to your mother’s voice,
not the voice whispering inside.  Look at where
this has gotten us.  You have been made
a more palpable meal and I am staring down

a starving animal dressed in your clothing,
plotting my escape.  I can surrender
and become his second satisfying serving.
But, I cannot bear to live in his belly

with you, praying for some woodsman to deliver us,
whole, slick, and covered in blood, back into this world.
Instead I will swallow a hunk of our bread for strength,
shed my heavy red cloak, and run for our lives.

Jessica Fox-Wilson
© 2010


  1. What a wonderful use of the old tale for a new purpose.
    The dual themes of consumption are so well balanced and so wittily yet trenchantly communicated. Excellent. Thanks for this, John.

  2. Hi Dick: Jessica Fox-Wilson handles these old myths & tales quite adroitly. "The Glass Tomb" is also a startlingly good poem, as is "Eviction" (just to name two). A really strong collection.


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