Still Fairy Tales
In this fairy tale, as in the vast majority
of them, there was not fair share.
You gave, they took. You gave, they took.
Towards the end even the crumbs that might
have helped us to find our way back
The masters blamed the disappearance on the birds,
or rather, our flaccid muscles incapable
of scaring the birds away. They began to hide
their hands. We began to suspect—
but kept quiet. They pointed to an abstract.
We thought perhaps… maybe…
We gave it one more try.
In the next fairy tale there weren’t even
crumbs for us to fight for. The memory
of two hands wrapping around our necks
kept waking us up. A faint scent of freshly
baked bread coming right out the oven
allured us. “Keep going, keep going.” We did
but the scent vanished just as we began to feel
this time we’ll reach its origins. A cold
and empty oven was the reward to our efforts.
One fact confused us. If we walked pass
a mirror we still could see the bruises
hugging our necks.
The sun kept rising every morning.
We kept bumping into the images reflected
on the mirrors. We began to suspect that maybe…
perhaps… we were not living in a fairy tale
after all. The smooth, cold surface
of the mirror sent a chill down our spines,
confirmed our suspicions.
The air around us got heavier
with every passing day. What we thought
were our truths turned out to be
just mirrors cleverly placed along the way
to keep us guessing.
We saw the desert they bestowed upon us
for what it was- a barren landscape.
No amount of sweat, care and love was going
to get from it the perfect blossom
we had been promised.
A floating fact becoming more obvious,
more concrete, with the passing of time.
Those in charge of distribution kept dipping their hands
deeper into the bags- textures and size alerting them
to which pieces should remain buried
at the bottom of the bag until the very end—
until the moment the meeting was adjourned
and it was time to return home, fill cupboards
and pantry with the day’s bounty.
Those in charge of distribution always
knew the exact weight of the bags they were
taking home with them and were always looking
for ways to disguise it. They began to alter
numbers and words to their content—
then protested loudly when someone
insinuated perhaps we should open the bags
at midmorning, turned them inside out, their content
divided in a logical and fair way—
they knew how to rearrange numbers, how to
empty the bags when nobody was looking—
when everybody else’s concern was to stretch out
whatever they found inside the flattened bags.
One day, those in charge of distribution declared
the dwindling, the empty bags, our despair
was none of their concern.
They gathered every bag they could easily
snatch, filled them to the brim then took them
home— their homes— where they accumulated
roof high under the cathedral ceilings they
just have had redone. Those in charge of distribution
still insist how many bags they took back
to their homes should be none of our concern.
—Nydia Rojas, Middleton, WI