George Macdonald, author of At the Back of the North Wind and The Princess and the Goblin, perhaps still puts it best, over 100 years on. "Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale; then read this and that as well, and you will see what is a fairytale. Were I further begged to describe the fairytale, or define what it is, I would make answer, that I should as soon think of describing the abstract human face, or stating what must go to constitute a human being. A fairytale is just a fairytale, as a face is just a face; and of all fairytales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful."
When Eden said enough--- seeing
her first family pushed past paradise
to barren land, autumn fell on summer
and winter was felt
as a cold embrace.
The venture back still happens
like Abraham checking on Ishmael,
soldiers walk out of jungles decades later
wondering how the war passed them by.
Alchemists too lazy for travel make magic
and watch colors collude; maybe into gold.
God and the prophets are safeguarding the risky
edges and Moses could spit into Promised Land
an edenic for his stubborn tribe, but never
Manna in the morning is mushy yellow
making forty years palatable travel.
coming back to paradise is not coming home
or paying a visit to a prodigal parent.
We are never greeted at the threshold
except in our imaginations.