Goldilocks and the Two Bears

I wrote this a while back for a competition at Freeword. It got long-listed, and I got some great feedback, but I did that defeatist poet thing of hiding it away because it didn’t win and was therefore shite. Finally, I went through the judges’ comments and worked on it, hard. Here you go, it’s about our impact on the environment.

Goldilocks and the Two Bears

Goldilocks takes her electric blanket from the plane’s overhead

plugs it in – she doesn’t like to be too uncomfortable, no

she doesn’t like to be too uncomfortable, no

she doesn’t like to be too uncomfortable

so she throws it to the floor in her rosy-cheeked mid-sleep

leaves it behind for the steward to unplug.

 

The hotel’s power is out – the moat around the outside

has soaked through the brickwork and made her bed damp

she complains the slopes are also wetter than last year

as she wipes slush from her goggles – nothing is right on this trip, she says

nothing is right on this trip, she says

nothing is right on this trip

so she pays for another room, gives Princess the Chihuahua the wet bed

and on her way out ignores a man in a box who is sucking his blue fingers.

 

In search of skiable slopes, she follows her GPS signal into the forest

and soon finds a cabin amidst trees, just like once upon a time perhaps

just like once upon a time perhaps

just like once upon a time

and as a girl like Goldilocks, with a right to unclaimed, habitable things,

she leaves a trail of imprints from wilderness to door – equidistant, imperishable fossils.

 

The cabin is beastly; deprived of furnishings

except a hungry fireplace with thin fingers arcing towards

a pyramid of coal in the centre of the room

and a warning sign sprayed across the back wall:

bears nest here, please do not disturb

please do not disturb

please do not disturb

an absurd verb, Goldy thinks, when the cabin is a human thing

and it was the bears who upset the balance.

 

Goldilocks decides she is cold, so she settles beside the coal

and feeds the fire piece by piece and then

piece by piece and then

piece by piece

and when the flames become too heavy for its hearth and spill out

slow and plump like porridge, burning away the warning sign

 

she leaves quickly without righting the fire

she’s had enough adventure for one day and her phone needs to charge

she doesn’t like to be unconnected, no

she doesn’t like to be unconnected, no

she doesn’t like to be unconnected

so disaffected little Goldy heads back to the hotel

to cure her boredom with important things – Netflix and a spa treatment

while the cabin cracks and spits smoke at the sky before falling in on itself.

 

A year passes, then once again red pine tops are dominoed by the plane overhead

the birdless branches shiver for minutes after it passes

she has come back to the holiday snow, this time to hunt Pokémon

she heard the rarest ones hide out here and Goldilocks is determined,

she likes to own more than most

she likes to own more than most

she likes to own more than most

and toasts to herself with a bottle of coke in the binless woods,

then chucks it in the pond as she heads on her way.

 

She soon finds a familiar patch of woodland, but something is missing

an ominous emptiness hums between two charred trees

but she can’t remember what was there before, so it can’t have mattered,

it can’t have mattered,

it can’t have mattered,

the tattered trees might as well be turned into IKEA chairs, she thinks,

broken into pieces for a man to assemble into something worthwhile.

 

Further ahead, a wire fence draws diamonds on the horizon

and as Goldy approaches, she reads the notice attached in big black letters:

nature reserve, keep out and be considerate

keep out and be considerate

keep out and be considerate

a bit late, when this ghastly web of metal is an unnatural inconvenience

to her day of catching wild, hidden, rare Pokémon.

 

As she rests against the trunk of a pine to check her phone

she sees two small hills trembling in the distance

and being the curious girl she is

being the curious girl she is

being the curious girl she is

she lifts herself over the fence to take a closer look

and quickly wishes that she hadn’t.

 

Two bears bend to the snow with blood-soaked jowls

and eyes that howl a sorrow their mouths are too full to make;

a cub that is thin, a mother that is too thin

and a third, still on the scarlet snow,

that is just not right

that is just not right

that is just not right.

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