Fairy Tale

The student writes a word, copse, quickly
realizing if the poem were read aloud, the listener
might assume the word is cops and become confused

because why would that small child in the poem
walk straight into an unlit murder of cops looking
for the owl she had been hearing all night, the owl

who had kept her from sinking into the lake
of sleep she had so badly wanted? Because

the student is talented, the student understands
thicket would also suffice, but those syllables
disagree with the poem’s neighboring sibilants

and circular vowels, so the student begins to feel
the first light of uncaring, an unfamiliar feeling, knowing
copse is more true than thicket, knowing that sound

allows a more important logic than sense. But class
raises its concern after the poem is read aloud

because the class feels compelled to police
sense in a way the student wishes to forget since
the student suddenly feels like the small child

looking in the dark for the owl who kept her
far from sleep, the owl whose ring-shaped offerings
may only be described in the act of voicing.

From Autoblivion (Conduit Books, 2023) by Trey Moody. Copyright © 2023 by Trey Moody. Used with the permission of the author.