Contrary Carrie

(being an instructional tale for children)

Contrary Carrie waited until her mother was distracted,

Then dumped her loathsome vegetables onto the floor and walked outside with the plate,

Intending to toss it into the river.

When she got there, though, she found it was more pleasing to use it as a paddle in order to take herself to N'awlins and become a grande dame.

She would live in a fine house and boss the servants,

Commanding them to place a heavy chest of drawers


No, there.

No there.

Her brother warned, "You will get into trouble," and so Contrary Carrie declared an old discarded box her brigantine,

And routed him with a fusillade of crabapples, stockpiled for just such an occasion.

"Wise crabapple," said she to the willow tree on the bank,

"Such lovely long hair you have! Marry me and be my Queen! All the whatnots and gewgaws your heart desires shall be yours!"

When Contrary Carrie got back to the house, she declared that she had married a tree and was moving to New Orleans.

Furthermore, she added, the tree was a girl.

That evening, sitting with her kitty "Mister Kitty" in her chair facing in towards the wall,

Contrary Carrie announced that voodoo hexes awaited all of her enemies,

And went on to elaborate that only Mister Kitty, a magick doctor, could cure anyone thus cursed.

"I despair of you, child," said her mother, wearily.

In 1912, at the age of twenty years, Carrie moved to Paris and became a dancer.

Her girlfriend, Willow, said, "Ma petite cherie, when do you think you'll go back to Iowa?"

"Jamais!" cried Carrie.

"Le medecin de chat dit que je suis folle, and that I must not travel, ever again!"

But she did,


Into the future she had believed into being, and which carried her like a current where it might,

As if she were a plate tossed skyward from the hand of a willful child.

ma petite cherie = my little sweetheart

jamais = never

le medecin de chat dit que je suis folle = the cat doctor says I'm crazy


ellen abbott said…
And so did she boss the servants?
Unknown said…
Ok, so I've got to say...first the Holly Hobby plate...LOVE IT...loved Holly Hobby as a kid, I was a dork....and for me as a tale for mon cherie, this is an instructional tale of how to live your life placing your intentions before Gawd and everyone and still livin' out loud in NOLA or Paris...doesn't matter even the cat doctor agreed.

Love ya
steveroni said…
Shay this lovely--and loving story (it must be part of your bio?) has me so mesmerized, I am in trance-like state. I need emergency "Black Cat Magick" treatment.

But please no pain pills ot mind-altering drugs--my mind is altered ENUFF!

I went outside just now with a large plate embedded in gold with la jeune fille and threw it high in the night sky, and ya know? I didn't hear it land! Hopefully no one was hurt in the four-car accident which happened right at that same moment....

Thanks, Shay--you are Soooo GOOD!

Ileana said…
I'm going to start blaming the cat doctor for everything and saying "Jamais" instead of "Jamas."

Btw, I like the way the plate gets tossed back in at the end of the poem. Just beautiful, my friend.
Cloudia said…
Aloha from Hawaii my Friend!

Comfort Spiral
TALON said…
Now THAT is a strong-willed child. I'm relieved now that my daughter's name wasn't Carrie :)

Loved it, Shay!
Riot Kitty said…
Is that character Holly Hobbie? I totally forgot about her!

Awesome story! And thank you for the French translations - I hate reading stuff where they don't translate.
Unknown said…
Believing the future into being is hands-down the best idea I've heard today. And all those who do so are just un petit crazy. Gotta be, I think, to stand up to all those non-believers. Lovely writing. Thanks.

Patty - Why Not Start Now?
cinderkeys said…
I want this to be true.

But then, part of me always thinks that if someone could think it, it's at least a little bit true.
Anonymous said…
I admire her guts, throwing the veggies on the floor like that! "The cat doctor says I am crazy." I loved it!
Anonymous said…
Most little girls are quite contrary for a time. When we grow it it might be the same...

Claire said…
Really cool. Great stuff. :)

steveroni said…
Shay I'm double dipping only to tell you that THIS is the second time in my life that I have fallen in love with a plate--and I do not even remember the first time....
Maude Lynn said…
And, they lived happily ever after.