Checked Out

Every woman needs a man,
her mother told her, to make
her complete.  To submit,

she realizes, too late, soul
traded for high-rise living,
big city dreams numbing

inner losses; she eats to
appease an inner sorrow,
a second-rate childhood,

afraid of being a burden,
loathe to create a stir,
conditioned complacency:

appeasing, pleasing, follows
plans, avoids decisions, never
really knows where she is going.

Can she fault the man, schooled
to provide – the alpha male taking
ownership/ charge?  His child

lives here too, feeds on impulses,
craves attention, overcompensates
for fears of lacking with bravado;

cannot understand why she never
asserts her self, alternately reads
acceptance and disapproval, frets –

an eternally unsettled gnawing gut.
They stumble over one another, seek
separation in small quarters, discuss

repairmen, schedules – nothing;
avoid deeper issues like the fact
that they are both suffocating, near

jumping off the ledge of their high
faluting existence, into the snarl
of traffic that immobilizes them.

The noise of city living has negated
their ability to listen, the distractions
altered them; the distance between

is too far to bridge in a single sigh,
and she, no longer submissive,
has joined him, and checked out.

Beauty and the Beast Revisited

Met a bear who proclaimed himself man –
knew the instant I spotted him, lumbering
gait approaching, that he was an animal,
feared for my safety, would have retreated,

stayed at my mother’s side – sheltered in
familiarity – were I not so fixated on his
blatant woundedness. Sympathy blinding
sensibility, I listened, hypnotized

by the whiteness of his exposed skin,
wanted to believe the veracity of his
tales of conversion, could visualize
him sitting in church, imagine the

horror of the congregants melting,
as I was, into acceptance, drinking
in his words, hearts soaring at his
professed abstinence from sins of

the flesh; none of us immune to
fairy-tale endings, faith above all.
Left the sanctity of mother’s fold,
followed him to his wooded lair;

read humility into his minimalist
housing, swept away his cobwebs
and my dreams, determined to
find fulfillment in domesticity.

The forest has its own story to tell –
nature does not lie – a beast does not
its essence forget, in time his true
temperament emerged, and I, lost,

withered into a crumpled ball,
a wisp of a character,  weakened,
disheartened, could not bend
myself to become either bear

nor Goldilocks, could not tame
his insatiable grumblings nor
abide long winters confined,
discovered too late the folly

of my girlish fantasies, learned
that sympathy did not beget love,
and denying instincts did not alter
the fact that a bear is not a man.

The Queen is Missing

She’s not in the kitchen –
presiding over the preparations,
thriving amidst the chatter,
tutting away thieving hands.

She’s not in the classroom –
mastering subjects,
upholding order,
ruling with a charitable hand.

Nor is she at social affairs –
smiling regally,
head bent in rapt attention,
compassion oozing forth.

The Queen is missing –
the poise and grace
that marked her carriage
has vanished without a trace.

Don’t ask the old woman –
tottering down the lane
stooped and stumbling –
she’s not all there.

Her mind’s a trickster,
her ego a petulant child
unwilling to concede wrong –
she’s merely the court jester.