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The Stubborn Child after Grimm

The Stubborn Child
after Grimm

from Stubborn Child (Jane Street Press, 2005)

His mother had taken him into her grave
where he continued to fidget. Quiet down,
she yelled, or we’ll get no peace here too.
But his arms kept lifting and falling
and his legs moved back and forth in perpetual dance.

The boy wanted to please his mother who loved him,
who always gave him the best of what she had.
But he could not find comfort in her grave
and continued to meander through those sleepless years,
his skinny chest surging as if it were still a home to breath.

You’re not dead yet, are you little boy? she screamed
and smacked him with her bony hand and chased him
with a kitchen knife around their small compartment.
She shoved him with her thin right arm so hard
he popped right out of the grave

he had been trying to live in, and lay weak,
half blind and covered with earth.
The dead smells on his skin made the small boy dizzy.
When he tried to walk, he fell, and he cried
each day for years to live without stumbling.

He does not mention any of this to his daughter
who sleeps her stubborn sleep each night
as he stands in her room and prays through her
restless years, waving his arms above her,
sweeping and stirring the immaculate air.

from Stubborn Child (Jane Street Press, 2005)

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