Gretel

 

Then comes Gretel,

such a girl, a swirl

of disheveled hair

 

and, starving though

she is, sits at my feet,

her eyes soft like fields

 

of winsome wheat.

She bathes my frayed-

grayed skin, a kindness

 

I have never known.

I do not see what she sees in me.         

        You must be weary, Mother, all alone in the woods.

 

Her voice like cherries

glistening on the branch,

she calls me Mother.

 

The daughter I never had,

who would love me?  

I cannot end her life

 

now that she’s fatted

as the cow. I suck my tongue…

but I cannot.

 

Better to say I will not,

nor her brother Hansel,

for that would pain her.

 

You see, I am changed.

Gretel’s sighs and scent

have kindled the dwindled joy. 

 

I tread the curse of eternal

life with moldy voice,

a crimped and useless leg

 

man-hairs on my face.

I see scratch, no lean

when fear is crooked

 

on a child’s tongue.

How they taunt me, still,

have always tainted my life.

 

Yes daughter, I am weary

of playing the rogue

in this moon-whipped

 

forest with no simple joy. 

Picking babies’ bones

from my teeth. So today

 

I hatched a plan, clever

witch clever as I am, 

I hatched a plan

 

and told the children 

I must eat them by

the earthly light of dawn,

 

(it can be no other

way—ahh, wretched curse),

but tonight we will rejoice.  

 

I will instruct my Gretel 

to warm the fire to cook

the meal and this child, 

 

her eyes deep with wisdom 

will know when I lean in…

when I lean into the oven  

 

so very far, she will push…

Sparks will rise through the night

lighting Gretel’s way home.

Copyright © 2016 Alicia Elkort.

Alicia Elkort retains all rights to this work, granting Fickle Muses one-time, non-exclusive electronic publication rights. Please contact the creator to request permission for reprints or other uses of this work.

Poetry,

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