Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1

In the Grand Theater

Five Decembers, I saw Hänsel und Gretel sung
by a pair of grown-up girls. And I waited

for the scene when trees began their flickering,
a thousand light bulbs set to blink like fireflies.

Brother held sister’s hand. Their voices
were melted chocolate and something else.

A knife. Then the woods unwrapped a candy house
where everything looked like toothache—

spun sugar windows, gumdrop walls, an entrance
of black licorice. Then the cage. The finger

made of twigs to prove how thin the body is.
Raisins and almonds for stuffing,

the treble, like brittle in their babyfat mouths.
I never expected them to escape each time,

blowing up the pulled taffy roof with a fit
of strobes that always made me cry, twitch

in my red velvet dress. What I didn’t know:
most stories involve devouring,

a duet of children at the witch’s door
who watch gingerbread scorch in the oven,

or are eaten up by wolves, crumbs swallowed
somewhere on a raked and amber stage.  end