Ava Leavell Haymon has written three poetry collections — Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread, Kitchen Heat and The Strict Economy of Fire, and published five chapbooks from small presses. She’s also written seven plays for children. She teaches poetry writing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and directs a writers’ retreat center in the mountains of New Mexico.
This poem is from Why the House is Made of Gingerbread: Poems (2010), a poetic retelling of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.
A late summer sunbeam slanted inside
and reddened to amber. Gretel reached
the broom into corners, teasing
the dot of color. The girl’s
limber movements set the witch
muttering: Fields of grain with no shade,
knife that keeps its edge. A few words –
Bees and candles, year’s turn –
growled into Gretel’s hearing,
fumbled words that twisted
the stiff mouth. Gretel saw sooty teeth.
She took a breath to ask something,
but the plaything of light
withdrew, and the dirty floor
had to be swept clean
before it was too dark to see.
Video: The author reads What the Witch Wanted from the same work.
Note: Scott Cairns, whom we featured on Monday for National Poetry Month, has a new poem, “First Storm and Thereafter, ” published in the April edition of Poetry. And it’s a good one.
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