Take Nothing (a response to Neil Gaiman)

by krstaten

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Instructions, Neil Gaiman

But the food on the table looked so inviting
I had to bite even once I was bitten.
It tasted of cinders. I hoarded it,
hid it under the dirty things, ignored
the cuts and scrapes I earned along the way,
the tears in my dress from rusted nails
clawing to keep me where I should have stayed.

It took a long time to find the garden.
The well stood in the weeds and thistles,
old, empty, and ready to drown. I thought
about taking a swim. I thought about
finding somewhere new where the water
in my lungs would lend me life.

I turned back later than you told me to
and sooner than I should have. Promise me
you don’t think any less of me.
Promise me it’s just an illusion
that everything looks bigger now
than it was when I came.
Tonight I will rest. Tomorrow
I will come back to feed the hungry things.