That’s why I was so pleased to discover “Gretel in Darkness” by Louise Glück. It uses brilliant imagery to put a sobering spin on the classic tale by imagining what comes next — after the witch is killed, the mother is dead, and the kids are back at home, safe and sound. It’s not exactly “happily ever after” - and really, how could it be? What child could really make it through such a story (poverty, abandonment, kidnapping, slavery, cannibalism, and murder) emotionally unscathed? How does a girl grow up in a world where all the mother figures see infanticide as a reasonable means to fill one’s belly?
Poor Gretel. One suspects that she’ll never really find her way out of those woods.
Here’s an excerpt:
This is the world we wanted.
All who would have seen us dead
are dead. I hear the witch’s cry
break in the moonlight through a sheet
of sugar: God rewards.
Her tongue shrivels into gas. . . .
Click here for the rest. You’ll be glad you did.
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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Brian Jung at his blog, Critique de Mr. Chompchomp. I’m serious. How great is that name?