Friday, November 11, 2011

Poetry Friday

I've always been fascinated by Alice and her trip down the rabbit hole, although I do prefer her travels across the chessboard better. Of all the fantasy worlds I've encountered, Wonderland is the only place where truly anything can happen. In all those other worlds, there is a certain logic that has to be followed. Wonderland, on the other hand, is a dreamworld, and we all know dreams don't necessarily have to make sense, so anything can happen in Wonderland. And if you write fantasy, it opens up a lot of possibilities. I have been dabbling with an Alice on the psychiatrist's couch story for several months. The following poem imagines her being born in China. I'm already thinking what a great story that could be.

If Alice. . .
By Alexandra Seidel

If Alice had been born in China
her feet would have been bound
(so much easier to stumble
down rabbit holes with these.)

The Rabbit (fourth of the zodiac,
followed by Dragon, preceded
by Tiger) in his compassion
and serene sincerity
would have waited for her,
tumbled with her,
chatted all the way.

The Cheshire Cat
of course, would have been a tiger
stripes at least as piercing as the smile
quiet and yet
always ready to leap.
It would have said to Alice
in her blue and gold embroidered silk gown
much the same things--
tigers, after all, are also cats
if less docile, less tame.

The caterpillar might well have been
a dragon
as of yet unhatched
sleeping in a hot fuming egg
but waking often
to speak through the iridescent shell,
speak strangely, but never quite untrue.

The Hatter
mad and drinking tea
would have been a hairdresser
no doubt
with fabulous black tresses
rising like winding towers from his head
scissors poised behind his back.

Then there is the Red Queen who
would have been an empress. She
would still wear red
but also gold and white jade
and with her long pinky fingernails
she would have snatched eyes
before she ever took heads.

Her roses
are peonies in the East
not red but almost so, with their dark pink
that is painted on ink here
because in truth
those oriental peonies bloomed ebony white.

And then
the thing that would pluck
the Chinese Alice from her daydream
would be mahjongg stones
falling heavy
and waking her
to the shadows of living temples
the sound of honking cars
the smell and sound of people all around her
and to a different life
that would be not that different
at all.

Tread carefully through the rabbit hole and, hopefully, you'll find yourself at Teaching Authors where you'll discover a wondrous world of poetry to explore.


Sally said...

Barb - lovely, lovely, lovely. Intriguing poem and interesting concepts. Alice is a masterpiece undermined by the fact that most people only know the Disney version . . .

Ruth said...

I love it! Curiouser and curiouser!

Diane Mayr said...

What a great idea for a writing exercise. You could re-imagine any number of classic stories taking place elsewhere--China or even New Hampshire!

I'm Jet . . . said...


Tabatha said...

I enjoyed this take on Alice -- thanks for sharing it!