And as in Alice

By Mary Jo Bang b. 1946 Mary Jo Bang
Alice cannot be in the poem, she says, because
She's only a metaphor for childhood
And a poem is a metaphor already
So we'd only have a metaphor

Inside a metaphor. Do you see?
They all nod. They see. Except for the girl
With her head in the rabbit hole. From this vantage,
Her bum looks like the flattened backside

Of  a black and white panda. She actually has one
In the crook of  her arm.
Of course it's stuffed and not living.
Who would dare hold a real bear so near the outer ear?

She's wondering what possible harm might come to her
If  she fell all the way down the dark she's looking through.
Would strange creatures sing songs
Where odd syllables came to a sibilant end at the end.

Perhaps the sounds would be a form of  light  hissing.
Like when a walrus blows air
Through two fractured front teeth. Perhaps it would
Take the form of a snake. But if a snake, it would need a tree.

Could she grow one from seed? Could one make a cat?
Make it sit on a branch and fade away again
The moment you told it that the rude noise it was hearing was
         rational thought
With an axe beating on the forest door.

Source: Poetry (October 2007).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2007
 Mary Jo  Bang

Biography

Mary Jo Bang was born in 1946 in Missouri and grew up in Cool Valley, outside of St. Louis. She originally studied sociology, earning both her BA and MA in the subject from Northwestern University. She earned a BA in photography from the Polytechnic of Central London, and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Apology for Want (1997), which received the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Living, Reading & Books, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Metaphor

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