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  • Poetry

Vievee E. Francis - Br'er Rabbit's Hole

Br'er Rabbit's Hole

(Marfa, TX)


1.

As I fell, bits of this and that caught

in my hair--more cotton

candy than wool, and if wool, the wool

of a days old lamb--thin and whitening.

Into its sugared mass. went whatever found its way

to the ground or had been ground under:

a brittle piece of leaf,

thorns of the allthorn, a feather

from the swallow

as it burst from the allthorn,

blades of winter-grass, inedible

berries, the bitter tips of sticks,

a blond strand, then another then

another then a hairball of straw,

cactus spines, a sun-blanched blossom

of the prickly pear. I became my own

tumble-

    weed

of detritus and desire, my own perpetual roil

of hair ever growing out

even as I fell


down.


2.

I followed him. It was on me.

                        He was so furtive, almost

sincere in his urgency, constantly checking his watch,

slicking back his hair, wetting his palm

in a way that said take a good look at my tongue,pink

as the inside of his lips. 


No one saw me drop. Everyone was looking elsewhere.

I was known for not being known. For all intents

and purposes invisible.


He kept looking from side to side, but

no one was looking back at him either.

They were doing whatever the mundane

morning demanded. Cocky bastard –


3.

He didn’t know I was following him.

That’s how good a tumbler I was. No white puff

of fluff for me. No bunny rabbit, he was a jack,

a hare, dun and lanky, quick to run, hiding in

a shirt and jacket, feral as fuck.


4

He was a Trickster. Tall enough

to appear to be standing straight

from a distance.

An elongated torso on enormous feet

(that meant absolutely nothing except 

he loped and couldn’t find good shoes).

I, his tar baby, his sticky wicket, couldn’t

put his hands on, couldn’t take his hands off.

Despite my eyes. I should have known,

considering his temperament,

how easily offended he was. How easily lit.

What didn’t scare him? Everything

set him off (and running), everything: a breeze,

a wave, dancers, skyscrapers, dandelions, a bird

appearing suddenly, my questions, my silence.


Damn. 


5.

Aren’t rabbits beautiful? All that shiver and hustle.


6.

When I hit the first bottom, the false

bottom, there was a cat waiting for me.

He took me on the real drop. 


Hell. That cat was a Trickster too.

A smile so charming, who wouldn’t follow? 

Often since, I wonder how good they were,

or how easily I can be fooled. I knew the hole

was there. I followed that hare down. 

I would have followed him anywhere.


It the same with my father.


7.

Foolish little girl. 

I have an ugly face when I cry, so no one stops

to comfort me. I barrel along like a boy with a hoop.

You are wondering how I lived to tell the tale.

How I got back? I grabbed that cat’s whipping tail

and held on (he screeched until

everyone I knew heard) but I’m clumsy.

Couldn’t hold on.

Fell again.


 8.

How far down is down?

I’m stuck on a ledge.

Up is a dream that only comes

in sleep and that too is a dream –


if I sleep too deeply

under my comforter

of feathers,

I might

lose

my footing,

and I am so

very weary

of falling.


9.

I never knew his real name,

so how could I recognize the game?

I furrowed my brow and pretended

I knew what I was doing.

I didn’t put all my cards on the table.

What fool would do that?


10.

I wanted to be a Windy. I wanted

it spelled the way it sounds.

Someone light that any sweet breeze

could carry away. To fly above

and away. Not so different than falling,

just look at what happened to that

boy who followed his father up

on those white wax wings.






Vievee Francis is the author of Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012), and Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press, 2016), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry. She is an associate professor in creative writing and poetry at Dartmouth College and an associate editor for the Academy of American Poets in 2019.

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