Candyhouse to Gretl
Not quite sixteen when she cursed me. I cannot remember
my offense. She called to me in the husked voice of my love, lured
me into forests of evergreen and bone, woods with no paths.
There her fury kindled. She trembled and grew me, stretched
and caverned me into cracked timbers: a house that must shelter her.
A house she would watch consumed by birds, beasts, and wanderers,
slowly eaten, ripped and chunked. "Let them shred and peel you," she intoned,
scratching at my walls with her cane as she passed, room to room. I
saw the two of you walking and I let the winds shift me, enough to catch
sunlight, to glint your way. Your brother caught the flash, brought you
to me, the only children I ever carried within. I nursed you on lemon panes
and honey-wheat door, bricks of molasses cake, ginger cane-mortar,
sugared cherry wattle and peppermint crunch daub. Take and eat. I
watched her bundle you into beds. I blew warm apple blossom breezes
over you through my windows, a patter of rain like a heart beat,
the dance of a plank swing on an old oak limb. Tiny Gretl, you hid
under the table as she dragged and caged Hansel, but you were never in
danger. I alone controlled my fires and when you pushed her
to me, I breathed deep as a bellows and we scorched her, top and tail.
She shriveled to no more than a walnut. I cracked open my floor slats
to bestow her gold, the only inheritance I could offer my children.
First appeared in Young Ravens Literary Review.