ONCE UPON A TIME, THE STORIES TOLD
about the path in the forest
and what you’d find if you strayed.
How manners matter,
respect for elders, kindness
to strangers, even giving them
your last crumb. When it comes
to the point, respect, too, for animals,
because you never know.
About how careful you must be
when you make promises and
what happens if you don’t keep them.
How dangerous it is to offend old women.
(Never, ever, offend old women.)
They told what happened
if you lied, stole from the poor.
They told what always happened
to people who wanted to be like god.