I’ll jump now to the end of the story. When the children return home to their father, there is life, food, but no more “woman,” no more poet. But then the narrator of the tale, who has been until now silent, suddenly intrudes:
My tale is done,
A mouse has run.
And whoever catches it can make for himself from it a large, large fur cap.
This strange ending reminds us that the end of the tale always leaves something uncaught—there is always something that escapes the story, and that something is, here, a poem. If in the story, in narrative, we have returned to feeding the kids, the poetry within the story still evades that task. No mouse would provide enough fur for a “large, large fur cap,” so of course this last line is ironic. In choosing to end on a poem, the “tale/tail” (or tale’s tail) escapes the world and all its demands for food and clothing, for utility.
Let’s not forget that Orpheus’s gift of music comes from his mother(s). He is the son of the Muses. But his destruction also occurs at the hands of women. The poem, then, is that border between being and nonbeing, the door of the little house—or, perhaps, of the oven itself: making life and taking it away.