poem index


Henrietta Goodman
In one version, the witch wins.
What lesson in that, besides we get
what we do not deserve? Cast out
to follow a distant curl of smoke,
we leave our past behind
and find our way, or don’t.
That smoke might come not from
a chimney but the forest on fire—
trees exploding, a column 
of flame two hundred feet high.
Take off your leather coat,
brother, and let me put my hands
against your chest. Even if we stop 
in the middle of the story 
and set out alone over these acres 
of scorched earth filling up 
with more water than the sky can hold—
still beyond us that curl of smoke
that who’d blame us
if we mistook for home?

From Take What You Want by Henrietta Goodman. Copyright © 2007 by Henrietta Goodman. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Henrietta Goodman