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.