The City as Fairy Tale

All those people are vines, intertwined
and trying to unwind to find the sun
under the canopy. They run out in green
depths to blood extremes, the red of them
extending root to trim. In cities, ancient
evils. In cities, modern magics. Cities,
their flat skylines against flattering backdrops,
from inside jut and jag their endless labyrinths,
their puppet people pantomimes.

The city is as special as the woods:
“The Grandmother’s Tale” in the suburbs
or spotting a real wolf. In decline, she
tells her Grey Gardens tales and leaves
out the steel and glass, except for the pin
path and needles. In hunger, it finds its
way to garbage, to raccoons, to puddles
of mud water. What matters is how
the space grows deeper with depth, as
confined as alleys that open with doors
and pipes and cats mewling for meals.
What matters is her pantry and
the cat calling you a slut.

She’ll remember better days, of course,
and in her telling you try to recover their
quilts. Grandmother pats her bedside
and you lie and claim to hear her; with your notebook
you were meant to record her memories
and submit a project. So few of us do.
She doesn’t tell you about the city. Instead
the woods behind her parents’
house, where she got lost every day
and in returning they lost her, too. Nature
came first for her nudity, second for her vices,
and third for her children, to map them
and grab them and drop them stumbling
into the big city. Their gritty eyes cried concrete water
waiting for sand and setting, to
pave paths of safety and sewing
shut the last dream of John Winthrop
and his “city upon a hill.” Christian
charity is death and for all you know
your grandmother wanted it this way.

#NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 10

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).