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. 



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