Katie Pauses

Katie pauses,
wears her princess crown,
pinafore dress and an almost-frown,
looks down at her ruby-two-shoes,
stained owing to tiptoeing cross the murky ooze
at the edge of the woods, the tall  gumbo trees,
she has slipped and fallen and skinned both her knees.

Paddy the bear says nothing.
When you push the button on his shoulder
he becomes all-of-a-sudden bolder,
lets out a scary howl
that complements his hairy scowl,
doesn't walk very fast, utters near obscenities,
his mutters echoing among the gumbo trees.

Mama's eaten magic mushrooms.
She's fast asleep on the parlor divan.
Katie has thought long and deep and devised a plan:
She will take Paddy and Lil Sis, riding a hobby horse,
on a yet-to-be-determined but dangerous course
through the gumbo forest to the house of Wicked 
	Witch Hisit
to persuade the old crone to make a home visit.

Katie takes sugar cookies
to pay for casting a waking spell
in a basket that unfortunately exudes a baking smell
which the big bad wolf senses with his keen nose,
decides to intervene, to interpose:
"Do you need directions through the trees, just ask it.
I will guide you for the contents of your basket."

Katie pauses again,
then thanks him but politely declines
to depart with the object of his designs.
The wolf retreats but fires this parting shot:
"Beware the Wicked Witch, her oven oh so hot!"
With that, his feet before his tail,
he turns and sashays down the gumbo trail.

Witch Hisit is worried.
Her large black dog, Huthbert, cannot bark,
he's not a proper dog, he lacks the spark.
Katie arrives, explains her plight,
gives the sugar cookies. Witch Hisit takes a bite,
holds Lil Sis as she lights the oven.
Are there victims ready to shove in?

Paddy says nothing,
rips the button from his shoulder,
inserts it into Huthbert's collar.
What's that note emerging from the dark-
furred Huthbert's throat, that bark,
resounding upwards to the skies,
tears of joy in Witch Hisit's eyes.

Witch Hisit boils the kettle,
mixes the waking potion.
"Whatever gave people the notion
that I am wicked, I just live as I please
in a glade in the midst of the gumbo trees.
Katie and Paddy and dear Lil Sis,
when you get home give Mama this."

Katie pauses,
wears her princess crown,
pinafore dress but never-a-frown,
races home like a leaf being borne by the breeze
to her cottage at the edge of the tall gumbo trees,
Mama slowly awakes, greets them all with a kiss,
Katie and Paddy and dear Lil Sis.

But one day soon:  Mama bites the poisoned apple
delivered by the Queen, jealous of her beauty.
Katie must do her zealous duty,
puts on her princess crown,
her pinafore dress, her deepest frown,
and before you can count from one to ten,
heads out to the tall gumbo forest again.

Mama pricks her finger on the spinning wheel
purchased at Walmart by her best friend, Ted.
She is currently zonked on the king-sized bed.
Katie drags out the princess crown,
pinafore dress and her painted-on frown,
grabs Teddy and Lil Sis, slams the screen door and then
heads out to the tall gumbo forest. Amen.

	(First published in Enchantments - 2018)

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