Size / / /

Perhaps it's only natural that a father

should want a son,

but the next time the woodcarver takes

up his chisel and mallet,

it's as if his hands have a mind of their

own, fluttering owllike

about a stump, or mouse. Before long,

girlish tresses have

emerged from the block of basswood;

no deepcut dryad,

but a daughter, roughly hewed at first,

but under the whittling

bite of scorp and spokeshave growing

ever more defined.

By evening, he is nearly finished;

all that remains doing

is to apply a bit of paint. Taking up

his brushes, perhaps,

reasons the woodcarver, I will have

better luck with this one;

girls were generally more mindful of

their parents

and disobeyed less; you did not have

to worry so much

about them running away. A pretty child,

this newish addition

to his puppetry has her brother's stark

black hair and eyes —

but then given the origin of the pigment

(he's compounded it

himself from fireplace char), that was

the nature of families.

Even now, the girl-wood jiggles with life,

taking bold steps,

but never quite out of sight of the hearth,

with its smoking pine

and bits of half-burnt string, or her father,

who at last content,

is still far from willing to relinquish

all notion of knots.

Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
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