Troll under her bridge, raw from clawing up
her rankling, swollen green with grudgery,
feeling on her spine each splintery plank,
each trip trap tramp, each neat little goat's hoof.
She's a cat–fit rash for rocketing, back
always up, hackles always bristling. She's
the worm in your apple, thorn in your flesh.
When troll meets troll at day's end, what ecstasies
of grumbling. Says this: "One drove before me
gratingly slow, and the last parking place
filched thievishly. Had the gall to ask then
for directions: TROLL FACE! TROLL FACE! One
won't ask again. I'm the fly in your ointment,
snake in your grass, skeleton at your feast."
"Uh–huh," says that: "I've claimed my window seat
when two come giggling, want seats together,
want me to trade: TROLL TONGUE! TROLL TONGUE! Two
won't ask again. I'm the stick in your craw, boil
on your backside, edge on your teeth." "Uh–huh,"
says this: TROLL FIST! "Uh–huh," says that: TROLL FANG!
Back and forth the bad blood, the belly–aching.
And where do they get off, those billy–goats,
calling themselves gruff? Here they come again,
traipsing so innocent, with their butt–heads,
their daggers, their bull–dozer shoulders. Ha!
Dunk her or drown her, she pops right back up
with her havoc and hoodoo. She's the mange
in your manger, iceberg in your bath.
She's your nil wind. She's your own weevil star.
About the Author: Nathalie Anderson's first book, Following Fred Astaire, won the 1998 Washington Prize from The Word Works, and her second, Crawlers, the 2005 McGovern Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. Her most recent collection — Quiver — is currently under consideration by publishers. Anderson's poems have been singled out for prizes and special recognition from the Joseph Campbell Society, The Cumberland Poetry Review, Inkwell Magazine, The Madison Review, New Millennium Writings, Nimrod, North American Review, and The Southern Anthology, and have also appeared in APR's Philly Edition, Cimmaron Review, Cross Connect, Denver Quarterly, DoubleTake, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Recorder, Southern Poetry Review, and Spazio Humano; and in the Ulster Museum's collection of visual art and poetry titled A Conversation Piece. She has authored libretti for two operas — The Black Swan and Sukey in the Dark — and is currently at work on a third collaboration with the composer Thomas Whitman and Philadelphia's Orchestra 2001, an operatic version of Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia." A 1993 Pew Fellow, Anderson teaches at Swarthmore College, where she is a Professor in the Department of English Literature and directs the Program in Creative Writing.
"Troll" © 2007 by Nathalie F. Anderson. The poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.