15 January 2007 | Vol. 6, No. 4

Excerpts from Greta

Chapter 11

A tiny, canopied bed,

Two slight sister girls,

Constant pecking,

There is something you are missing,

No it wasn't quite like that,

Mismatched hair tangled together on a pillow,

Not like that either,

Ten-years-old and eight-years-old, respectively,

Sour breath and other sordid details,

When sisters marry and conceive,

The child comes out a softhearted vamp.

Chapter 12

Outside nightingale waited. Wasn't patience

so much as practical. Little feet

like dinosaurs and nightingale was remembering

her own sister: no tongue,

no hands,

just a spread testament.

Chapter 13

Once peacocked,

everything flickers

on a hint

of pleasure.

Chapter 14

Greta dreamed a bird.

Woke and reached for the scissors.

Chapter 15

Dry horsehair ends

lay on the floor like straw;

Greta stuffed them into the foot

of an old stocking and used this

to rat her hair. Bouffant

will make magnificence

out of any old thing. Makes riveting

play of all movement. Creates

size where there once

was not.

Chapter 16

Somnambulant before anything else.

Chapter 17

Greta carried bits of her now severed

left them in a haunted heap beneath

certain poppies. Auburn scraps

of hair meant to worm their way

underground, feed something many-legged,


Chapter 18

When situating one's home

it is vital to recall softness,

or the degree to which you meander

while sleeping. Knowing this (she

knew from sleep, believe her)

nightingale gathered Greta's lonely

bits, arranged them like a bouquet,

let somnambulant breeze drop by.

Chapter 19

Nightingale grew from the sky

up. Fed on intraterra legless things

and shit where she liked. At night

opened her breast like a gushing fruit

and fed reveries of love. Like most

birds, nightingale wanted one (love)

that she could crawl inside.

Other girlbirds looked at her snidely,

ripped at her raw chest,

wouldn't fit,

closed their own in return.

All this gore and nothing.

When nightingale looked on Greta

she saw some love sizeable enough

to enter.

About the author:

Gina Abelkop lives in New York, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and edits the feminist literary journal Finery, published by Birds of Lace press. She has previously been published in Lodestar Quarterly, Stirring, DIAGRAM, Softblow, Wicked Alice, and Hothouse.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 4, where "Excerpts from Greta" ran on January 15, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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