This poem of mine, with allusions to The Wizard of Oz , appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Phi Kappa Phi Forum.
AFTER UNTITLED WOOD AND FIRED-CERAMIC PIECE BY MARIA SCOTT
Frail bars, sunk deep in stone tempered by fire
That could reduce a wooden grid to ash
Leaving just the bedrock. We never tire
Of raising cages, walls; we twine and lash
Our rickety contrivings, groove and rout,
Knowing the earth we build on will endure.
What we create to hold life in or out
Will fall, will fail, of that we may be sure,
Consumed at length by fire, flood, slow decay,
Or fresh mischief: for they’ll huff and they’ll puff
And they’ll blow the house down. There is no way
To keep the wolf from the door, not enough
Of straw, sticks, bricks that we can hope to shore
Against time’s ruin. Thus, Grandma prepares
To face the fiend in sheep’s disguise before
Red Riding Hood—known, too, by what she wears
Brings her woodsman, flesh or tin, to spill blood,
Felling Grandma’s bane. And how can we say What grew within the wolf from seed to bud To flower, will not rise up in us someday?
We need diversion and we look elsewhere,
To Munchkins, flying monkeys, talking trees,
Tornadoes whirling us from here to there,
Beyond the rainbow to our destinies.
But when we’ve won through, over, or around
Each hindrance to the Emerald City’s gate
What lurks behind the light and smoke and sound?
Our mortal self, our sad and comic fate,
Pretentious oracle revealing all
Despite congenital dishonesty,
Showing the truth of our fortunate fall—
We own the power of choice that makes us free—
Showing us, too, there is no place like home.
The archetypal shrink, guiding us back
To what lies waiting near the beaten track:
The earthen bed, the pillow made of stone.