To Market, To Market by Stephanie Pressman

Mother sent me for a bag

of beef broth bones. She’ll dig

potatoes and other roots, carry

water from the well. Never mind

what’s down there or who

put him in. That woman in fox

pushes in front of me, buys a fat pig,

Argentine chocolate, Basque cheese,

a whole side of veal, tongue,

brains, sweetbreads, cream,

raisins, eggs, a sack of flour.

Mother says Father can’t afford

a new axe or a new jacket,

yet she cut up the old one

for a vest and night caps.

Bought new red cloth.

Made me this cloak.


A graphic artist and lifelong poet, Stephanie Pressman earned an MA in English from San Jose State University, taught writing at community college, and is the editor of her small press, Frog on the Moon. She served as co-editor of cæsura and americas review. Her work has appeared in Bridges, The MacGuffin, The Kerf, Sing Heavenly Muse, and Montserrat Review as well as on-line in Newport Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Red Wolf Editions, Ekphrastic Review, The Collidescope, and others. Her long poem "Lovebirdman" appears in an illustrated volume published in June 2018.

Author's note

“To Market, To Market” is part of a series of Red Riding Hood poems to which I bring aspects of my own life experiences and dreamwork. Red is one of the collected stories from oral tradition, told by mostly illiterate folk who would struggle to put food on the table. My childhood in the 40s during tight rationing highlighted my awareness as I read from Grimm and others. I’m lucky now to be able to afford to eat well, but for so many providing the basics of food, shelter, clothing is a challenge. Thus the contrasts in this poem. My mother often told me that my father could not afford a new suit (he wore one every day for work). In the next breath she would say she was taking me shopping for clothes. I think of that irony often.