One of my favorite poems is Christina Rossetti’s poem, the Goblin Market. Much has been written about the poem and its meaning. Here is my modern answer to the call of the goblin men.
The air was heavy with the sticky, sour smell of goblin men.
I went to market when I was 19,
my arms and legs soft and dimpled,
face round, hips wide.
I was too ripe, they said, too round;
I wasn’t hungry enough.
So between freshman and sophomore years,
my sisters fed me lemons.
From breakfast till dinner I gorged on them,
sucking rinds and squashing bulbous pulp
with my tongue and teeth;
I drank dozens of lemons, sliced and quartered,
mixed with sugar water; my lips grew red-raw.
My belly curled into itself, gnawing on its sides.
The body that used to swell beneath my hands was gone.
My breasts could be held, each in one hand, easy.
Eyes had settled farther back into my skull;
beneath them, the barest hint of lemon lurked.
My sisters took me back, sure the goblin men would come.
They liked the melted me,
plucked me quickly from my sisters to dark rooms.
It was always in the dark
and they dove first for that part of me
that hadn’t changed at all–
licked and scratched and pinched me,
juice smeared across my flesh,
by Kathryn Cody