Dispatch from Another Familiar Fairy Tale
We did not abandon them there, though it was my idea:
the two of them alone together in the wilderness
of a Midwest shopping mall at Christmas, not holding
hands but bound by their word and the rareness
of the occasion to stick together. In the event
of an emergency they have her cell-phone,
his maleness, their long-limbed, always-competitive
swiftness to get them to safety. Each of them
with a few folded bills—the crumbs we have left
to give them—in their pockets to buy gifts with.
They wander the well-marked paths of plate glass,
weaving between the carts of over-priced sweatshirts
and magical skin creams, scented squishies
and cat calendars trying to prepare us all for what’s coming.
Light glitters in every window, warring music wafts
from every escape route, and if an evil shows up to spew
its black spit at them, I’ve told them both to run and not
look back—leave each other behind if they have to—loyalty
and bravery and cunning and all those fairy tale virtues
saving no one in this age of senseless storylines.
Dispatch from a Memory of Mint
Into the damp white light of those Mother’s Day Sundays
my sister and I would rise, steal through the property-line
pines, and tear thin tongues of nose-tingling green
from the neighbor’s garden. I imagine our two rounded
backs, curled like witches tending their brew,
our nightgowns damp at the hem from being dragged
through dew. I held my hands open for the offering
as my sister plucked piles of the fleshed, fluffy feathers
I’d cup to my chest. Back in the still-sleeping house,
we’d scoot curdled eggs around a hot pan, scrape
butter across toast, pour water that could burn us
to brew the tea our mother mixed with two pink packets
of fake sugar, our garnish mint rimmed around the waiting plate
like miscolored rays of a make-believe sun. How did we learn
such nurturing, in the absence of an inverse? My sister showed me
where the plant grew and how to take it, how to hold each
tiny blade gently, the serrations so small you could touch them
again and again without feeling cut.
Megan Gannon is the author of Cumberland, a novel, and White Nightgown, a collection of poetry. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry and Ploughshares and most recently in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, and Alaska Quarterly Review (forthcoming). She is an Associate Professor of English at Ripon College.