Easier than Truth by Kate Holly-Clark

Easier Than Truth

You know of course
that all the
fairy tales
are simply love
gone terribly wrong.
Who knew
what might have come
of it
if the grandmother
had gone off with her heart when
she was young
with the wolf
instead of staying sensibly home
like her mother said to
if she had danced
into the woods following
fur and
moonsong
and run away
to be the
wolf’s bride—
instead
she stayed
turned away
from
the cold and the clear
of the night
raised her daughter right
and ended,
ill and old in bed
while he cried his
heart out
and howled moonless
without her,
starving for the scent of her
following home
a little girl
because she smelled
of her mother’s mother’s
line.

When he found her again—
did she smile then?
crippled and close to death?
waiting for her
silently-padding lover?
Did she sigh?

It is sure
with his wolf’s
eyes
accustomed to the night
that her face looked
the same to him
in any light—

Did he offer her rest?
Knowing that by knawing
her bones,
his own
would be hunted to
the ends of the trees?
After all those years
empty without her
would it be more mercy
than slaughter?

Mad with grief,
unsated with merely
her blood,
did he care
that he tasted
a younger version
found and lost and found again?
The howl from his throat
the song
of the woodsman’s axe
cut short
on the same note
the aching crying singing
silenced at last—

The parts of the story
they never tell you—too complicated—
the lonely cold years
edged with frost and song
the love that outlasted
long past a life,
a granddaughter,,
the knowledge of a certain slaughter—
at the hands of those who never understood—
a mother
a maiden
a crone and wife
the music and love
outlasting life
(of course they always do,
but it’s not spoken of or told)
because the stories are neater
and not about love
gone horribly awry—
or deferred—
or withered up and gone dry
or abandoned,
when misunderstood—

No, it’s easier and cleaner
to just retell the story
about a little girl
in a bright
red
hood.

 

Kate Holly-Clark is a professional storyteller, artist, and poet living in NH.

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