ISSUE 6 · SPRING 2011




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Copyright © 2011

Callista Buchen





Becoming

CALLISTA BUCHEN



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.