AND AS IN ALICE
By Mary Jo Bang
Alice cannot be in the poem, she says, because
She’s only a metaphor for childhood
And a poem is a metaphor already
So we’d only have a metaphor
Inside a metaphor. Do you see?
They all nod. They see. Except for the girl
With her head in the rabbit hole. From this vantage,
Her bum looks like the flattened backside
Of a black and white panda. She actually has one
In the crook of her arm.
Of course it’s stuffed and not living.
Who would dare hold a real bear so near the outer ear?
She’s wondering what possible harm might come to her
If she fell all the way down the dark she’s looking through.
Would strange creatures sing songs
Where odd syllables came to a sibilant end at the end.
Perhaps the sounds would be a form of light hissing.
Like when a walrus blows air
Through two fractured front teeth. Perhaps it would
Take the form of a snake. But if a snake, it would need a tree.
Could she grow one from seed? Could one make a cat?”
Make it sit on a branch and fade away again
The moment you told it that the rude noise it was hearing was
With an axe beating on the forest door.