by Gail Griffin

Too hot, too cold, just right.
Golden hair, golden mean.
Simple as porridge.

Too hard, too soft, just right:
a mattress-testing primer.
Always the neat trinities,

even the bears.
Middle way, perfect fit,
the eternal just right.

Listen to me: I am a girl
who sought bears. A yellow-
haired girl who wanted bear

in her life. Wanted bear life:
deep greasy grain of it,
sharp brown smell.

Bear snout and snuffle,
lumber and huff, moony
arc of claw and tooth.

I stalked those rooms
that reeked of them. Sniffed
and licked, marked the place.

Then I slipped myself like a fish
into that great mouth, closed
my girl-blue eyes, and waited.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  Something always bugged me about the Goldilocks story: first, the girl’s audaciousness, and second, the tiresome emphasis in our culture on avoiding what are defined as “extremes.” Those two seemed to be at odds with each other: Goldie is not exactly doing what is “just right.” I wanted her to speak in a way that would unearth the wild thing in the little blonde girl.

IMAGE: “White Bear” by Theodor Severin Kittelsen (1912).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Griffin is a poet and nonfiction writer living in southwestern Michigan. Her last book of nonfiction was a study of a student murder-suicide on the campus of Kalamazoo College, where she taught for 35 years. Her poetry, essays, and flash nonfiction have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She is retired now, working on a memoir of widowhood and survival.