Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower 

by Susan J. Erickson


The setup looked so innocent.  Like a rustic
LEGO estate.  Before you ask, the ivy escape route
now clambering up the walls was tended
by an apprentice of Edward Scissorhands.
The Government was reclaiming this tract
for a planned wilderness.  It was so quiet
         I could hear my hair grow.  Occasionally
a crazed scientist would wander by, eyes
to the ground, mapping endangered four-leaf clover.

I was endangered too, but had signed on to relinquish
the rib of victimhood.  I thought life could be arranged
so only my favorite pineapple LifeSavers came up
in the assorted roll.  One sleeve at a time, I slipped
out of my coat sewn from sackcloth and shadows
        to wear the skin of solitude.
Each day I recited that line from Rilke:
Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell.

When I came down from the tower, the media wanted
a country western song.  Everyone would hum,
wipe away a tear, then sing aloud the verse
where Wrong crashes its vintage pickup.  Instead,
I uncoiled my crown of braids, cut the ties and loosened
the strands that held my story captive.  Every day
       new towers of darkness rise.  Do I need to say
your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon
to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage?



Susan J. Erickson’s poems appear or are forthcoming in 2River View, Crab Creek Review, Museum of Americana, The Fourth River, James Franco Review, Naugatuck River Review and in anthologies including Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest.

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