Gretel Grows Up

by Teresa White
Wild Poetry Forum
First Place, February 2013
Judged by Deborah Bogen

I never wander far from home
while the sun peels paint from twenty-year old
siding or the blood of rust trickles off
billboards over on Cheney highway.
Everything changes these old markers
year by lonesome year – the cocoon
of marriage fattens itself with more binding
with no hope of the silk splitting
not even when the morning glory wags
its blue trumpet and then is gone.
Forgetting greedy birds, I try bread crumbs,
bits of colored paper as I forget the brisk wind
in this dry season. The numbers on the houses
never look the same coming back. You’ve given
me a map, a compass, a goodbye kiss and once
I traveled all the way to the river and back.
I bake gingerbread in my spare time,
mix frosting for mortar. You helped me install
windows of spun sugar. Soon, I won’t
have to venture out. Already, people stop.

The poet’s use of the fairytale here is enhanced by both local imagery that rings true (“billboard over on Cheney highway”) and odd statements like “The numbers on the houses/never look the same coming back.” There is something here I want to question, even argue with, but the poet acts out Gretel’s refusal to engage with the sureness of the penultimate claim, “Soon, I won’t/have to venture out….” --Deborah Bogen