I don’t like to see her, barefoot
in the snow, standing in the alley, looking
at the Christmas feast through the window,
rubbing her hands for warmth.
I like to see her
going to the door and knocking,
like a child at the Inn,
I like to see her asking to enter;
on this most appropriate day, I like
to see her appropriating. And I like to see
them taking her in, as the center
of their feast, the reason.
I like to see them
placing lambs wool slippers on her feet
and piping goose on her plate,
steamed pudding and later, snuggling
her into a quilt-warm bed. I like to see
her staying on, growing up, fed full
of love and feasts. And building
a home someday for matchgirls
like herself or fighting
the laws that create matchgirls.

Or, if they sent her away, said no,
and slammed the door shut, and she had no
choice but the choice she had, that is,
to light all her unsold matches for one
last moment of warmth, I don’t
like to see her frozen dead
the next dawn. I like to see her
taking those matches and lighting all of those houses,
each one that said no, each one that locked
her out, and the buildings where the laws
were made and the houses where the law-makers
lived, until everyone was burning, burning
as she burned in the cold white dark.

Copyright 2001, 2006,  Pesha Joyce Gertler

Pesha Joyce Gertler teaches poetry, myth and creative writing at North Seattle Community College, the University of Washington Women’s Center, and various local venues. When she’s not teaching, Pesha writes poetry and prose, and explores or creates myths in her own life. Many of her poems have been published and received numerous awards. “The Little Matchgirl, Revisited” was previously published in Pontoon in 2001.


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