Two Parables
Patty Yumi Cottrell

—for JB


—Come into my cabin set upon the four poles, said the little girl. Settle here, please.

I only went up the ladder because I needed a place to stay. At the time, I felt sturdy and light like a portable log. I was not driftwood; I did not wash ashore.

—What is this use of the four poles? I asked. After all, the town has not seen a flood in a century.

The little girl leaned back into a grey chair made of sticks and matches.

—While that may be true, she said, you have yet to consider the possibility of a fire.


An old man sitting in the courtyard hands you a key. The old man introduces himself as the gardener.

—Go in, he says. It's yours now.

Your inheritance is in the shape of a nested octagon. In the basement is a well, unused for some centuries, and known as the deepest well in town. You drop down a stone and a dull speech about crime and punishment echoes back. You toss in your shoe and a dreadful play about powdered wigs and minuets sounds forth.

It is a cruel house and has seen the deaths of many failed poets before you.

Patty Yumi Cottrell's work has appeared in elimae and Everyday Genius. She has a chapbook, The Drawers (Green Gallery Press, Milwaukee), with images by artist Amy Yao.

Detail of art on main page courtesy of Ricardo Lago.

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