In the woods behind the house
I built a tiny city from sticks
and rolled matchbox cars down

moss-lined streets where
everyone in every building
kept my secret.

I collected candles of all shapes.
Arranged and rearranged them in my bedroom,
but I wouldn’t let them burn.

A girl who loves the music
of white cotton clothes pinned to a line
will grow to be a woman like me.

The wind took my city apart bit by bit.
My stepmother ironed
all the garments into silence.

I imagined Gretel’s
rough strong fingers
climbing up Rapunzel’s coiled hair.

On a single night,
behind my bedroom door,
I held a match to every wick.

Alison Prine

ALISON PRINE’s debut collection of poems, Steel, was chosen for the Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in January 2016. Her poems have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Harvard Review,Michigan Quarterly Review, and Prairie Schooner among others. She lives in Burlington, Vermont where she works as a psychotherapist.

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