“Dorothy to Auntie Em” by Allene Nichols

Good Christian woman, my eye!
You were all sweetness and light
when I was Dorothy the meek and mild,
but when I returned from Oz, roaring
like a freight train, you couldn’t cope.
You kept ironing my frocks long after
I adopted this black dress and pointy hat.
You threw me in the cellar for chatting up
the pretty clerk at the grocery store.
And did you really think that camp
with its shock therapy and ribbons and bows
would wash the wicked witch from my blood?
The Wicked Witch was my choice. And Oz.
How could you understand? Here in Kansas,
with its fields of corn and wheat,
you have never had to destroy what you loved.
You’ve never stared into a melted pool,
searching for one last glimpse of her dark eyes.
I’m sorry I took the broom from your closet
without permission and rode it until it was kindling.
I’m not sorry I surrendered to her. I’m not sorry
I threw out cherry pies and cotton candy
in exchange for that one night.
I can’t forget the way she stood at the mirror
holding the apple before she cut it
to pieces with her fingernails and fed it to me
bit by bit.
None of it means what you think it means.
All of your talk of apples and snakes
is just your fear of that multi-colored world,
with its races of tiny people and aboriginal Winkies.
I’m ready to return, now. My fingernails
have grown long and the skin beneath them
is turning green. I’m ready to claim my castle
and rule the monkey people. I will build a monument
next to the murky pool that she has become because,
there, where there is no hope of salvation
and no hope of resurrection,
is where love resides.


Allene Nichols lives in Dallas, Texas, where she works as the coordinator at Richland College’s writing lab and teaches writing at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Veils, Halos, and Shackles; Lifting the Sky, Southwestern Haiku and Haigaand Impossible Archetype. Her poem, “Queer Salt,” was a 2017 winner of OUTSpoken’s creative writing contest.