Vasa Lisa Advises You On Getting Out of Dodge

“Vasa Lisa Advises You On Getting Out of Dodge”


Probably the evil step-mother taught you how to hit a baby.

Also: how to falsify a form, use a name you were not given,

change the locks to other people’s houses and let die the fire inside.


Before her, I bet your father taught you how to leave:

at least one family, all people and places of origin,

uncountable beds, an addiction or two, and their imagined causes.


After them, the step-sisters, or maybe it was your brother

or the other neighborhood kids—will have taught you how to carry the pain

like water from the well of the home that was never home,

at the bottom of which you squinted to never quite make out the sun

much less your own face, strain still not to hear the ping of a penny.

How to balance it—very carefully—against gravity

as you haul it around with you everywhere.


Then the witch showed up, right when you were in the darkest part

of the darkest woods on the darkest night of the year.

Some people will ask you why you let this happen.

But we both know it’s her MO. She said you could have the fire

from her human fence-post skulls, you could take it home

to restore life to your own dead hearth. But first—

you had to do something impossible for her.


Listen: You can do impossible things for yourself, too.

You have better things to do than separate the dirt and poppy seeds

of other people’s dreams. Sooner you let go the easy lie of going home,

and the effort to explain your forced departure, the sooner you can wake up

one morning covered in humming and forgiveness, knowing that the doll

in your pocket telling you to run away was neither right nor wrong,

but that hers was your own voice leading you out of the woods all along.