2 March 2010 | Vol. 10, No. 1


Prologue, Epilogue

The hero in this story was never born. If you never say never, you can't ever say nevermind. Say this is the beginning. Say this is the end. Say your princess is in another castle. Say the castle is made of sand.


If the rabbit hole is Odysseus' ship, Penelope's hands are the pills that make me smaller. The rabbit's foot is only lucky once it's been severed. As luck would have it, we set out together. I set chocolate candies on the ground we covered so we could find our way back, so the aliens would be sure to find us. If you find my mouth a telephone, call home, ask to speak with me.  


Three-thousand-some-odd days in and I think we're even. Even if you take it back, you can't move forward. Fast-forward to a few years ago and tell me again the smallest thing you've injured, how you busied yourself right after. After Rome fell, why didn't anyone ask where it landed? When we land in the next town, I'm going to start wearing my dirty clothes inside-out so when you touch me accidentally, you'll touch what's touched my skin. Skin is my least-favorite word, except when it's a verb.  


Let's start in the middle. Let's end at the beginning. Let's touch Go and steal the two-hundred dollars. Let's hide and go peek-a-boo. Let's yell Olly olly oxen free inside the national cathedral. Let's kick the can, kick the bucket, kick this habit, kick the ball over the fence, dare each other to stay behind.  

Body of the Text (Text of the Body) 

The map we've been using was drawn when the earth was flat. When the earth was flat, no maps had been drawn.  


You're David, I'm Goliath, and Grendel stole the one eye I was born with. After Adam stole a rib from God, he put it in my chest, said, "Keep me with you." If you keep asking about the love you left behind, I'll eventually answer. The answer to the question is always given first on Jeopardy and never given on your deathbed. Death becomes her but becomes a god you pray to when you're stuck dreaming of a way to get out of your dreams. Every night for a year I dreamt of this journey, how it would begin in the middle of things, end in the middle of nothing. 


They say no man is an island but I've seen all your shores. If stranded on an island and able to prepare, to bring three things, I'd bring you and two tubes of paint. As it turns out, we're on this island and I've got you and two decisions to make. Leaves don't turn; they change. If you leave me, I'll be left alone. Like trying to remember left, pitching my fingers into the uprights and reading the L as right, correct for left, I've managed all these years through stupid tricks. I never had a mouth full of metal but my teenaged mouth still picked up radio stations, played all their stupid love songs. 


Every night I wake each hour, pull myself from some awful dream, try to forgive myself for removing my toenails, robbing eight banks, telling you I love you, delivering that woman's baby and then naming it Messiah. In all my baby photographs I look depressed. After everything has failed us, promise me you'll photograph what's left, you'll tell the others what almost happened here.  

Epilogue, Prologue 

The hero in this story was never born. The sirens in this story can't remember the words to their songs, can't remember how to hum or moan, sigh or sob or screech. The sirens on the ambulances don't work anymore. The ambulances rush down the street, drivers hanging out the windows yelling, "This little light of mine, it's gonna make me blind."  

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About the author:

Stephanie Goehring's first chapbook, This Room Has a Ghost, is forthcoming from dancing girl press. She maintains a blog at boxfordcourt.blogspot.com.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 10, No. 1, where "Epic" ran on March 2, 2010. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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