The Alice Poem

by Abbey Schlanz (Univ. of Mount Union)

First Place

Oh Alice,

we used to dance around rabbit holes,

dipping our toes into darkness and laughing

as tiny teeth tickled and pricked our skin,

but we never jumped in.

No, we were too smart for that

(at least that’s what our mothers said)

at least until the day you decided

the rabbit hole seemed brighter

than the future so you belly-slid down, face first,

pushing aside the roots that reached out to slow you,

with a Mad-Hatter laugh as you tumbled

into Wonderland, where I find you now.

 

Your hands are dusted white,

but there is no winter in this wonderland

so tell me, Alice—

Where did you get that snow?

Snow that burns your nose like ash

and carries you up a streak of lightning

to its pushpin peak where

red-clawed letters and black-toothed numbers can’t climb

to reach you.

Careful, Alice!

You used to be a dancer, but the snow is slippery

and your feet forget how to balance.

Your scream is thunder as you fall, fall, fall

down that streak of lightning

into an Everclear lake filled with spark-eyed sirens

who whisper symphonies that sink sleep

deep into your veins.

Wake up, Alice! They’ll drown you!

I swim out to save you, but sirens circle me,

hissing and clawing my skin with 151 ice-hot fingernails,

pushing me back to the shore where I frantically call your name,

but oh, Alice,

you stuffed your ears with mushrooms.

 

As your hair melts into seaweed,

the white rabbit hops to my side,

checks his pocket watch, and says,

“Too late.”