Gretel’s Confession

Lauren K. Alleyne

There was no witch.

There were days and days of wandering

and heartsickness.

There was one small loaf

and two hungry children.

There was his face, baby-fat

and so innocent

I couldn’t help giving him my share.

There was the part of me that hated him

for his stupid questions

and the lies and lies I told him softly

to keep him safe.

There was a cabin covered in moss

that I told him was a kind of candy —

if we chewed it enough, it would become sweet.

He believed me, set about his eating,

then slept the easy sleep of the safe.

I started the oven without knowing

what had been set loose in me.

I stroked his arm, not yet thinned,

I rubbed his child belly.

He woke up and asked, What are you cooking?

Why don’t you go and see, I said.

He turned and walked toward the fire.

He leaned closer and closer,

and I reached out my hand — for what,

I couldn’t say.


about the author