Poem: Goldilocks

Goldilocks runs from the three bears. Illustration from Arthur Mee and Holland Thompson’s 1912 work, The Book of Knowledge

What can one small girl do against three bears?

Settle into a chair: Is that a crime

When you have all three — soft, hard and just right?

You weren’t even there to sit in them.


In the wildwood, all the chairs are taken,

all the porridge claimed, steaming in the bowl:

too hot, too cold, just right. The covers turned

down on all the beds, waiting for someone


to settle down and sleep — too soft, too hard,

just right. Sleep-sick and hungry, I stumble in

with no back story and only a head

of fabulous hair. Why would I have more


in a world where the bears and the bulls write

the stories and engrave their names on

the backs of chairs, gilded like thrones? A girl,

no less — greedy, willful, unchaperoned


where teeth and claws are the only currency.

Who sat in my chair? Who slurped down my soup?

Who dared to dream in a bed not theirs?

Peering down, the powers return: snouts, teeth.


After that, my story ends like porridge.

Do I run into the woods? Am I spiced

and eaten? Who am I anyway?

Surely I have a name — not just “blondie”


and there was a reason I was there alone.

You never give me a chance to speak

but only to steal, to eat and to sleep.

What can one small girl do against three bears?


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