Make a deal with the frog. Give her a warm spot in which to chirp. With a little love, she’ll become a princess. With a little love, the mouse shrieking from the floorboards will rise up as your mother and sing a song so sweet that mournful tears will come to your eyes. And the Great Dane nudging you forward will turn into your father. And your sisters will sprout from the vegetables on the kitchen table. And your brothers will no longer be pigs wallowing in the mud, oinking their displeasure. A little love is all it takes and the witch’ll burn in a pile of leaves, turning to smoke and laughter. Just a little love is enough to heal the wounds, and now your family is strong enough again to rip you apart.
Jeff Friedman has published six poetry collections, five with Carnegie Mellon University Press, including “Pretenders (2014)” and “Working in Flour” (2011). His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Vestal Review, New England Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and numerous other literary magazines.