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if you go down to the woods

The Big Bad Wolf

This rabbit (giant, gray)
had been a present
from the Easter Bunny.

He had left my daughter
a note - stamped with his pawprint.
Instructions: love him & feed him carrots

The Easter Bunny
did not say: careful -
look out for the neighbor's

Irish Setter
who will break into
the cage and leave nothing

but Clover's matted silver head.

That my daughter, already a serious child
would come home from first grade,

walking purposefully up the driveway
in brown Mary Janes with little
stamped-out flowers, Snoopy lunch box

to find her mother in tears,
unable to make up a story this time -
what imagination could

with these characters?
A red dog - a slain rabbit,
An empty cage - flakes of bloodied sweet hay.


1) Please list three emotions this poem evokes for you.

2) Does the title work? Why or why not?

3) What do you think the dominant theme of the poem is?


A reply

1)Compassion, disgust, disillusionment

2)Title works - it eludes to the inevitable process of growing up and experiencing loss, while still evoking memories of childhood fairy tales.

3)For me, it is that day when you realize that the world doesn't always turn out the way it should and it really isn't fair. Disillusionment.

I also really like the perspective from which you write it. It avoids being too soppy, as I think it would have been written from the child's perspective.

I remember the day my grandfather's dog killed my rabbit. I tried to give him CPR, but realized I couldn't fix him. It was one of the saddest, most disheartening things to happen to me as a child. But I grew up a little bit that day. There are a few memories like that for me, and this poem brings them all into crystalline focus.

Re: A reply

Thank you, Miss Em.

I'm trying to get into other heads - stretch.

The Merc is in order soon. This or next Friday?

Re: A reply

Friday works for me! I will actually read this week, I think - if I can find time to tweak some stuff. Frida - she is so inspiring.

Getting into other heads - yes, I can relate to this. Perspective is everything.

Re: A reply

Perfect! Something to look forward to.

Yes - I especially want to try out the sound of some of these new ones.

I do hope you read, too.

I made me feel trepidation, sadness (how banal!) and empathy (desire to shield the ugliness).
The title works because of some of the other fairy tale characters. "Easter Bunny"
Dominant theme: growing up? For both the mother and the daughter.

I hope I passed the test, Dear Teacher! By the way, I love how you spoke with your mother's voice. I haven't seen you use that before, and it really worked well!
1. Dread, horror.. sadness (I SO identify with the child because a neighbor's dog killed one of my cats when I was six.)

2. The title works, as the setter is LIKE a big, bad wolf from a fairy story.

3. Other thoughts.."My mom can't protect me from the heartbreaks in life"
1. Guilt (i laughed when my dog did the same thing) and not much else. insight into a mothers mind doesn't evoke much of an emotion; well actually, it does. dismay. but i've just spent the last fifteen minutes looking at my keyboard feeling nothing buy guilt for something for my dog did nine years ago on a rainy, overcast day.

2. i don't know that it does; theres a bit of sarcasm there that overplaces the shock and disgust the mother is feeling for her daughter, but then, sarcasm would probably come naturally after.

3. as everybody else concurs, its about parental concern and disillusionment. if a child has to grow up and realize that things die, there has to be a better way then to find the knawed-on head of her Easter Bunny bunny-rabbit. but then, if the daughter is that serious, perhaps she'll take it all in stride and dignity. probably not. a dead rabbit is one thing, a dog breaking into the rabbits cage and devouring it (which, by the way, i've seen the canine process of shaking and tearing - its not an image she should grow up with) is quite another and its quite traumatic.

yet, also, Mom probably invested some of her own emotions into the rabbit - maybe the pet was something both Mom and Daughter could enjoy together. Mom probably fed it when Daughter didn't, changed its cage, etcetcetc. pets arent just for children. the big word blinking through my head here is vicarious. did mom get the rabbit partly for her daughter but mostly for herself? if so, she's mourning for herself, as well.

1) Please list three emotions this poem evokes for you.

2) Does the title work? Why or why not?

3) What do you think the dominant theme of the poem is?

1.)it reminds me of a heavy sigh, of lifting off a burden. It expresses everything just right. Not too much description, but not too little. A hard balance to strike.

2. The title works. it surprises you in the end. like a rollercoaster with a round track.

3. I think the dominant theme is that of being a mother facing the disillusionment of a child, and how shattering this must be.

Hope that helps.

if you go down to the woods

January 2007

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