“Explain Yourself!” Said the Caterpillar Sternly
by Jamie Feldman

Wonder under tumble and down,
Through the glass and under a crown.
Which way are you going?
Which way have you come?
Revise and consider
Where you have come from.

Run through smoke and fog and the sea.
Run from all the things you could be.
A red queen or a knave?
A mome rath outgrabe?
One thing to remember:
To always behave.

Curtsy when one is spoken to.
Never disrupt when you are through.
But where is the wonder?
But where is the dream?
I’ve learned from the flowers
Life’s not what it seems.

Pawns can take kings and queens and rooks.
Dreams do exist outside of books.
But do your thoughts bring joy?
Or Jabberwock fear?
Please drink the potion
And keep your head clear

Cheshire Cat smiles question your time.
Answer in riddle or in rhyme.
Will you ask me through smoke?
Play a game for two?
Down through he rabbit hole,
That’s where you’ll find you.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have long been my favorite fairytales. Alice is perhaps one of the only female protagonists who doesn’t need a prince to save her, but rather discovers her strength and identity on her own through her wonderland dreams and not from the world above the rabbit hole. The inspiration for the poem is taken from a passage where, upon first meeting the caterpillar, he asks Alice to explain herself and define her identity.

IMAGE: Caterpillar and Alice from Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) with illustrations by John Tenniel.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jamie Feldman is a writer/playwright from Halifax, NS, Canada. Her writing has appeared in Baseline Literary, The Big Jewel, and Scissors & Spackle, among others. She is a multiple SLS Literary Merit Fellowship recipient, and her plays have been performed internationally including at The Atlantic Fringe and Short+Sweet: Sydney, AU Festival.