Monday, June 11, 2012

Hansel and Gretel Come Home

Years pass, pages turn.
The story retells itself.
A great famine of the spirit
falls hard across the land.
Stars flare, talking ceases,
children starve for want
of connection.

Hansel and Gretel’s father
cuts virtual wood
in a forest of white cubicles.
Their mother risks arrest
painting dreams
in damp basements.

One night the children overhear them
whispering in the dark:
The scholarships have come. It’s time.
But what woods? How deep?
And if they don’t return—
Hush now. Let’s sleep.
The morning is always wiser.

Hansel slips outside,
fills his pockets with white stones.

Next day the silent parents
lead them deep into the firs.
Stay here a while, they say.
Throw stones into the brook
and learn to pray.

Four years later: a knock at the door.
The children have found their way home,
tall and gaunt as geese.
Around the fire they sit and watch
the sparks leap toward the stars.
What did you learn?
The children shift. Long minutes
without speaking.
The father chews on his beard.
Finally Gretel speaks.

From the bear I learned to sleep long and hard
but to roar like hell and mean it.
From the hawk I learned to fly aloof
but dive for what I need
with talons of fire.
And from the wind I have learned
to embrace all things loosely
and move swiftly on.

I learned to trick cannibal witches
interrupts good Hansel. That was cool.
And I rode on the backs of swans.
I learned that being lost
is not the worst fate
and that dark woods are better than
suburbs that glitter.

But most of all, they say in unison,
we learned that our parents
with all their good intentions
are crazy as loons and most likely
can’t survive without us
and so we have returned
to save them from their sins
as well as do our laundry.

Then all smile as the logs burn down
and the night grows cool
and they embrace in silence,
each imagining a deeper
more distant forest.


  1. I'm filled with emotion, Ed, at this reunion - that of the poem and also at seeing you here again.
    "The morning is always wiser." What a proverb!

  2. Ed, I am so blessed and grateful to sit next to the poem-sparks with you and hear what you've brought back to this council fire! Always such treasures... This part really helped me, as I, too, savor what school is bringing to me as I turn to the waning side, rounding toward the quarter moon of completion...

    "I learned that being lost
    is not the worst fate
    and that dark woods are better than
    suburbs that glitter."