My story starts much
like any other, I reckon.
Take these, she said,
these are magic beans
and of course I believed her,
and I see now that I was
a fool to do it, but I’ll
come back to that later.

So there I was, staring
at the beans in my hand,
my cow looking over my shoulder,
a sole witness to my buffoonery
as I dug a hole for them beans,
and for myself as well,
as it would turn out.

Well, that vine twisted
its way into the stratosphere,
and I pretended it was just
a wayward weed whenever
my wife gave me sideways glances
and townsfolk came by to gawk.

One day when the time seemed
right, I began to scramble up
that monstrosity, only to find myself
lightheaded and apparently
deathly afraid of heights.

I’d been had, which was
a first for me, since it’s usually
the other way ’round.

Magic beans, I muttered
under my breath as I climbed down.
Well the Lord giveth and taketh away,
don’t He. And I took my axe and began
to swing with all my strength, but
I couldn’t make a dent.

In my anger, I grabbed hold
of the useless vine, like I was
hugging a tree, as my cow looked on.

There I was, wrestling this vine,
like Jacob had wrestled some strange
angel. And as I continued in my struggle
to overtake it, I realized I was climbing
ever higher and higher, just like that
ladder to heaven Jacob dreamed about.

And as I continued on,
sweating and duking it out
with this vine, stubbornly determined
to get something from it or be rid of it,
I began to think about my brother.

I know I cheated him,
I know it was wrong of me.
My wife is quick to remind me of this.
I wonder if he remembers.

Thinking back to my misdeeds
was enough to give me the shivers,
and so I put him out of my mind
and kept climbing, climbing.
It was just then that I heard him
call my name.

I was so high up my vine,
I could barely make out
the world below me.
But through the mist
of some low clouds,
I thought I saw him there,
holding my axe, looking
as strong and mean
as he ever was.

He had found me,
and I realize now that
to his mind, there was
nothing left to do
but cut me down
and that he did,
grinning most obligingly
as the sound of the axe
echoed in my head
and the vine I once resented
I now clung to for salvation
as it trembled in my arms.

Doc says every bone
in my body is broke.
My wife won’t talk to me.
Had to sell my cow to pay
the doctor. I suppose I deserve it
for believing that a handful
of magic beans could be
some one-way bus ticket
out of here. And that’s where
being a fool comes in.

Claire Juno, © 2015