It's Valentine's Day, that most commercially candy-coated of holidays, and the day when Love in all its sweetness is celebrated across the land--except, of course, at Castle Hedgewitch, where instead we have a twisted cautionary tale for hungry young lovers whose eyes may be bigger than their stomachs, and a retelling (with customary poetic license) of an old feral, er...faerie tale from the Brothers All-too Grimm.
How Hansel Ate Gretel
Looking back, as I make off into mothering trees
I see your trail wind under their stooping knees,
snake of cherry heartbits beneath the moon
and know it for what it is, your pheromone croon
baiting the sweet biological trap up on the heath
where every heedless sacrifice drops its spore.
See your sisters all come running to hide from death
and instead become your food supply, nothing more.
Your candy call draws the lost ones, wild to eat
the gingerbread house with sugar hands and feet.
Each famished girlchild sucks at white icing's sweet
slick, swallows glazing and dreams the full child's dream
inside the cage made to plump her up as the oven heats.
With luck, the last one's fallen bones gnawed clean
make a silent deceit to a blind eye’s need for meat,
pinched to test what's forever incomplete.
Still, gingerbread girls will always let you start
those hungry cannibal gulps that crumble the heart
but what surprises is the discipline you show
sparing some of the half-baked morseled dough
(bitten off, those cookie legs can’t run like flesh)
to pull and scatter speck by speck as you refresh
that trail that tells the strays just where to go.
O we all need to eat, so I don’t mind the meal
or being dessert that's thoroughly lost in the woods,
nor the sandpaper licks I took so I could feel.
It’s the marker you make of every spit-stained crumb
to bait your sweet-breathed trap for damaged goods
that freezes all I have that’s still not numb.
Note: I've significantly altered this old tale to suit my fancy, put it into a valentiny rhyme scheme and fictionalized first-person form, removed the stereotypes of the wicked cannibal witch-hag and evil stepmother and made poor innocent Hansel, who was the original victim, the villain of the piece. That's what happens when you let feminazi witches rewrite the history books.
Image: Late 19th century illustration of Hansel und Gretel, by Carl Offterdinger, photo by Harke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons