Becoming Peter Pan
“I don’t ever want to be a man,” [Peter] said with passion. “I want always to be a little boy and have fun. So I ran away… and lived a long time among the fairies.”—J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy
Truth is, he’d wanted to stay.
He could have withstood
losing the round face,
the fruit-sweet skin of a boy.
He loved London, the men
in the street who came to light
the gas lamps at night,
the bed of phlox and zinnias
she tended, the petals
she touched with her thumbs
the way she thumbed his skin, her pink son.
Truth is, in the land where he had a mother
he’d been alive
but one morning
his mother couldn’t wake him.
And so his body
became a story—
held up by the breath
of the sun’s sweet rim, mothers’ mouths
or a girl’s dream.
Now his jasper shadow calls.
Beneath a sea of fairy bones
and pretends to keep time,
to keep a child’s small open hands.
* * *
Fairy Tale for a Boy’s Bad Day
Sometimes your story needs ravens.
it needs purpose like a ladder
of black wings. It needs a tower of stone
reaching all the way to the ground,
soil hard and gold
as the wolf’s eyes
when it’s time for you to climb down.
Sometimes you need to agonize,
which means moving
your fingers through ash.
You’ll have to find the wood spoon
you stole from the witch’s table
or the candle you broke with your fist.
The candle was red.
You didn’t forget it.
It burned hot and wrong as wolf’s breath
and it was yours
or it wasn’t. You broke it
and gave yourself to its pieces, black stars,
that raw dark your destruction made.
Your story will know how to fix it.
You need to return the spoon with a note
tied to the raven’s back.
You need your way lit
by a bird you can’t write. Words that rise
from paper: you’ll want your mother’s
arms in the telling, her skin
on yours in the bed
with the heavy book.
Sometimes it’s a promise
that brings you back down to her.
Sometimes it’s a wolf,
nosing cinders near your thumbs, his wet growl
at your neck, his hunger almost your gray throat.
Sally Rosen Kindred’s first full-length poetry book is No Eden (Mayapple Press, 2011). She has received fellowships for poetry writing from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her poems have appeared in Quarterly West, The Journal, Strange Horizons, The Moment of Change, and on Verse Daily. For more information, please see sallyrosenkindred.com.