Henrietta Goodman

Gretel Reconsiders

It’s true we were abandoned,
though I was older. My parents
were ignorance, propriety.
His were faith. I treated him
like a child at first, praised
his art, refused to let him pay.
I laughed at his uncombed hair,
the bits of leaves stuck to his clothes.
Later, I gave him my key.
We wandered until we found
one room that belonged only to us,
one narrow bed, one window.
Always, it was night, always winter,
snow blowing sideways under
the streetlight, the woman
in the next room cursing
her children, an echo of crying,
of an open hand on skin. Always
we were naked but never innocent.
What did we think would happen?
The trail diverges here, dissolves.
We were not so different
from our parents after all—
so greedy, so willing to yield.

Henrietta Goodman
“Gretel Reconsiders” is from Take What You Want, (Alice James Books, 2007).