Alice Vichenroff

Christmas, 2009 / No. 23

Alice is taught to be afraid of witches,

their long noses and longer fingernails,

stooped spines and penchant for wolf paws.

She is also told to fear wolves and strangers,

and to buy potatoes from the gatekeeper

(though once, just once,

after her sister marries a man who hunts pheasants each day,

and hunts her gleeful sister each night,

Alice trades eight potatoes for a sticky bun).

And as she licks her fingers clean of sweet,

she finds a frog in her palm,

a frog who speaks against her knuckles,

and says his name is Clovis.

He tells her she is sweet,

though she knows she is just as salty as he is.

Her roof burns and she is a witch now,

for what can a frog’s lover be but a witch?

And she dances a dance that circles itself over and over,

the body of her first lover green,

now slowly brown in her hand.

And she dances and wonders when,

or maybe if,

her feet will ever stop.