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Poetr y - $8.00

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell targets the art and necessity of the fairy tale by exploring, with language, its vital energy. With undertones of love and loss, myth and inescapable reality, this poetry collection offers a visceral experience on every page – truly the fairy tales we need to tell. “Elisabeth McKetta taps fairy tales and, presto, they transform themselves into living things that reach out and tug at us, reminding us of the exquisite fragility in ‘once upon a time.’ Hers is a Proustian adventure that reinvents the fairy tale for us, infusing it with the drama of times past.”

Maria Tatar, author of The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales “In this excellent collection, Elisabeth McKetta grapples with the bedrock basics of being human - or perhaps more accurately, as she puts it, of being ‘unsteadily human.’ All of the imperatives of flesh - love, lust, the making and breaking of hearts, marriage, children, and all the rest - get full play in these wise, unflinching poems.”

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

ISBN-10 098860771-9 ISBN-13 9780988607712 50800

9

780988 607712

m o n k e y p u z z l e p r e s s . c o m

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta


The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell


The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Monkey Puzzle Press Harrison, Arkansas


Copyright Š 2013 Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief excerpts. Printed in the United States of America. Cover & Interior Design Nate Jordon Cover Art Wilhelm von Kaulbach courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

ISBN-10: 0-9886077-1-9 ISBN-13: 978-0-9886077-1-2

Monkey Puzzle Press

424 N. Spring St. Harrison, Arkansas 72601 monkeypuzzlepress.com


For James & Snowden


Table of Contents Metronome Tryst Seeded A Child Asked Me Why the Children Followed Milk Traps Mammalian An Occasional Elegy for Milk When a Sister Loses a Sister Mary Alternative The Breaking Point The Frog King Rapunzel Raspberries Peeling Healing Waters Borrowing a Daughter to Read to Sleep That Blade The Real Labor Watching My Grandmother Empty Her Files Water-children Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 27 28 29

Acknowledgements

30

Thanks

31


The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

Metronome She has eaten. It’s not that. But panic woke her and now she needs me to breathe her back to sleep. I put my face near hers. Deep in, deep out. Intertidal. Her mouth pulses like a squid. She is learning. We are beached on our sides, bare-bellied, her tidal mouth muscles working her thumb. I close my eyes so she will close hers. So she will mirror me into the dark coves of sleep. Oceaning together, she and I. At last we are both Quiet.

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Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Tryst Only once did we make love on an atlas, and it was on top of Alaska. Afterward we admired the geography, the spooling hills and land-wrinkles, sudden lakes and changing shades of green. We never made it there to visit, but in an afternoon we demolished Anchorage, sent canyons through the Endicott Mountains, tore a hole in the Bering Sea.

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The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

Seeded At a certain point of night, the city is sepia and children glow green in the dark. Summer ends tomorrow. Locusts have left their skins. Rush-hour sings quietly on M Street. We can hear everything from where we sit on the front steps. We toast it as it goes by. But we each are saving one last sip of wine. Not on purpose, but because we are waiting for something— not night, not autumn, not for our one-day husbands to pass by and leave us seeded and ready to burst. We are waiting for this fetal night to form in its grapeskin, leaving us one perfect image – this half-darkness, this being here and being young – we must keep it safe because we will need it one day, after our skin has crumpled and the wine is all gone. One night we three will swell like grapes and burst. Out will come children. But that night is not yet. These boys

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Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

we love now will vanish like dew on grass. So toast them now, women, you tomorrow-mothers, you one-day-widows. None of us know yet to whom we are drinking our last glasses of wine, but we all hold our breath and hope that it will be good.

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The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

A Child Asked Me: What is the Center of the Universe? The bed. Oh, the bed. What doesn’t happen in the bed? It could be the kitchen counter, or the prayer bench someone left in your yard. The prayer bench fits two bodies, precariously. What about the desk, the area rug, the nursing chair? They all have purposes too. You can lay a baby on its back on the bookshelf, wedge it between Shakespeare and How to Cook Everything. But the bed again, the bed. In older days families slept together, read in separate rooms. The story goes that they hadn’t yet learned to read silently. The same story goes that they all caught lice. So stories go. The bed is the origin of all things, the beginning of life and the end. The bed, the messy bed, the spilled upon bed, always the unmade bed.

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About the Author

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta has been an essayist, a small press editor, a college professor, a poet, a big sister, a dog-owner, a Texan, an Idahoan, and most recently, a mother. She earned a PhD in literature, writing about the intersections of fairy tales and autobiography. Her work has been published widely and she teaches writing classes in Boise and at Harvard. www.elisabethsharpmcketta.com


other chapbooks from

Monkey Puzzle Press A Slow Curve digs at, and quivers with, the sentence and its potentiality. Traveling cross-country and into the naked words of close and honest relationships, Henning’s language opens our eyes to what we always see but never perceive. Poetry / $8.00 Chapbook: 48 pages Published: November 2012 ISBN-10: 0-9851705-6-5

A rare look inside the complexities of the writer’s cocoon. This, and birth. A raw and intentional exploration of language, space and communication. Min Jung Oh has set a new standard for innovative poetry. Poetry / $8.00 Chapbook: 38 pages Published: September 2012 ISBN-10: 0-9851705-8-5

“Flecks of dust and wine and words.” Lost in a landscape of numbers, businessmen, and the shadows of unrequited love, a young woman finds herself in the desert. Poetry / $8.00 Chapbook: 30 pages Published: May 2012 ISBN-10: 0-9851705-4-9


Poetr y - $8.00

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell targets the art and necessity of the fairy tale by exploring, with language, its vital energy. With undertones of love and loss, myth and inescapable reality, this poetry collection offers a visceral experience on every page – truly the fairy tales we need to tell. “Elisabeth McKetta taps fairy tales and, presto, they transform themselves into living things that reach out and tug at us, reminding us of the exquisite fragility in ‘once upon a time.’ Hers is a Proustian adventure that reinvents the fairy tale for us, infusing it with the drama of times past.”

Maria Tatar, author of The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales “In this excellent collection, Elisabeth McKetta grapples with the bedrock basics of being human - or perhaps more accurately, as she puts it, of being ‘unsteadily human.’ All of the imperatives of flesh - love, lust, the making and breaking of hearts, marriage, children, and all the rest - get full play in these wise, unflinching poems.”

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell

Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

ISBN-10 098860771-9 ISBN-13 9780988607712 50800

9

780988 607712

m o n k e y p u z z l e p r e s s . c o m

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell  

A sample of THE FAIRY TALES MAMMALS TELL by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta. THE FAIRY TALES MAMMALS TELL targets the art and necessity of the fairy...

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