The Prince and the Woodcutter

Some days you drag the crutch,
       Some days the crutch drags you.
The other folks get all the breaks:
              the better bowl of cocoa puffs.

Your lover's tongue comes boxing
       with its gloves off
and you bruise easy as a peach.

You cast your net too wide
and the fish you were counting on for supper
are lying phosphate-wasted belly-up along the beach
And the bottomfeeders linger whistling
imperfect protein melodies:
Sometimes it seems that nothing
is good enough.

Did you ever feel like you were being dragged
through a car wash without the car
...because the repo man was here to claim it
just last week?

And you needed it to drive your son
to pom-pom practice because he
volunteered for the pep squad of the girls'
homecoming powerpuff football team.

Did you ever find yourself in need a personal tune-up?
So you go to check out the electric chi-machine
at the hi-tech new age health center down the road
but then you find you haven't got a chi to speak of,
       and besides the line is way too long.

So you hitch a ride to Door County
for a getaway weekend, thinking there's more color
in every particle of autumn
than one can grab with two eyes groping.

But your friends are in the front seat
hunting down knick-knacks and souvenir shops,
Out-of-Towner written all over their T-shirts
jostling their catalogs and shoulder bags
complaining they can't understand
why happiness eludes them.

And you wonder why a pitcher of beer
won't transport you
to all those carefree magical places it used to.
Seems like nothing is good enough.

But then you remember the fable about that wimp of a prince
who is suckled on so much convenience
and over-sauced cuisine that finally his appetite goes flat
and no one in the kingdom can find a remedy
until one day this woodcutter comes along
and takes him out for a day in the woods
to whack on some logs and work up
a drop of sweat and a proletarian hunger
for a piece of dark rye and a tin cup of apple cider.

So when you start to think that nothing's
ever good enough, you remind yourself that life
is not a sitcom promising a happy ending in a half an hour.
Just Do It only works in Nike ads.
You cast too wide a net
and there's always one that gets away.

But when the bottomfeeders linger
singing "what did you learn in school today,
dear, what did you learn in school?"
You can say:
       "Some days you drag the crutch
        Some days the crutch drags you."

- Nina Corwin

The Prince and the Woodcutter first appeared in Cider Press.