ISSUE 6 · SPRING 2011
I live in the forest of lessons, a red fox
on the run, ember-streaked, a single
single flash of color.
Nearby, bachelor bears share a castle,
circled by oaks, the holler of blue jays,
this tired vixen. Smoke tunnels hot
from the chimney. I will make a good pet,
paws in someone’s ample lap. Why leave
a forbidden door unlocked? Chairs rock,
I wait on a cushion, ears pert, tongue lax,
but the boys traipse home to kill,
to punish the uninvited. Yet I am not a fox
hanged nor drowned, only flung
from a window: stunned, trotting away,
away. Rest in the open, snout shrouded
in a white-tipped tail. I am Escapefoot.
“Vixen” too dangerous a word
on an author’s pen, one violent flourish
and a ghost slinks from the forest
as an old woman materializes in a clearing.
How strange must be the tales that stay
the same in truth and translation. I fall
through a second story:
I am Silverhead, picking chanterelles
among pines, fatigue in shoulders,
skirts, dragging maple leaves in circles
like mystic chants. I am motherless
in a witch-nose mask, braced into moss
with knotty knuckles and a loose scarf,
once the color of foxes. I am ancient-born.
A cottage glints in the distance, almost
made from plums and smoke, home
to a new bear family. Hello?
I am calling. I bring you mushrooms!
The door, oak carved with jays, bangs
open at touch. I lean inside, my mud
on the fine fur rug with ghosts and moss.
She is a good bear-woman, I know,
the clean stove, the beds all made up.
He is a good bear-man. See all
the chairs? The cushions? And their bear-child.
Such tidy toys. I will be a welcome
auntie, but the bowl empties, the chair
breaks, the floor hardens.
My hair, too familiar and other-worldly,
betrays: trespasser. Angry bears hurl me,
she of fox, vixen, woman, witch,
from a higher window. I tumble harder, lost
in a maze of letters, impaled by pens at my body
for story, flinging shavings into a refuse pile
behind someone’s old breasts and silver curls.
Bring the blonde wig! The ruffled bloomers!
That’s it, cupcake! Go on, Goldie, you baby
fox, try that house!
Here I am, precious,
from a pseudo-womb, a tiny never-was.
Callista Buchen is a teacher and graduate student. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Gigantic, Bellevue Review, and many others. Her reviews have been published in The Collagist and Mid-American Review. She is the incoming editor-in-chief of Portal del Sol and a staff reader for jmww. Callista can be found at callistabuchen.wordpress.com.