Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Grimm Tale

One day during the free love of the 60s,

a boy, looking like a haggard man,

popped his head from the manhole

of his Mother's womb

escaping the sour amniotic

that he'd lived with for too long.

A masked man grabbed him,

turned him over and bruised his ass

for the first time.

He cried.

His sister decided to remain below

and savor the erotic world of womanhood.

She liked being inside the uterus,

worshipping it's beauty

and eating it's delicate food.

She knew the outside world

would not tolerate her desire

for such a preference.

But they cut her out.

And she cried.

The parents, sappy with tradition,

named them Hansel and Gretel.

For twelve years they lived behind

the barricade of a white picket fence.

Hansel would prance in his Mother's heels

while Gretel challenged

Johnny Bench's Batter Up.

They did what felt natural.

Warnings of damnation

made them feel guilty

but could not change their ways.

They called Hansel

a mama's boy

but secrets knew

he belonged to papa.

Bruises, fleshy as eggplants,

hidden by Fruit of the Loom

stretched the length of childhood

and planted him in a dream

of cauldrons and warts.

Gretel corked her eyes

to the drama until

the day Hansel could accept

his Father's devotion with ease

and she became the object

of drunken patrimony.

She protested knowing this was not

her lot in life,

but muscles outweigh reason.

Each night

she thought of ways

to lead her brother

from this secret suburban forest

and into a world where

there was no fear of witches.

A slumber dripping with sweet dreams.

A land that would welcome them

without the price of midnight visits.

On Mother's 39th birthday

a jolt of nicotine bolted it's way

to her coronary

sending her to the ground

with a terminal thud.

The tears burned

her children's cheeks

as the embalming fluid

stung her veins.

After Mother's abandonment

Gretel was forced to quit

her habit of climbing trees

and knot around her waist

the strings of an apron too big

for her empty hips.

It was now her burden

to fuel Father's addiction

when he returned from work.

Father's senses were so dumb

that each night

before he lapped

at the adolescent meals,

Gretel would kiss his cocktail

with a spoon of arsenic.

It did nothing

but bless his poison blood

and strengthen his grip.

A soused night later

he slipped on a roller-skate

and tumbled down the stairs

like a dusty weed.

His fall was in vain

for a broken leg did nothing

but confine him to his bed

and Hansel's bed

and Gretel's bed.

For the length of a moon's trail

Gretel schemed of ways

to snuff Father's last breath.

She patiently waited for Fall

knowing this was the season

when death was in bloom.

It seemed appropriate

for his body to rot

with the used leaves.

Her chance at freedom

was a day of thanks.

She prepared a ritual meal

of bird and feed

while Father,

his dirt eyes

slit like paper cuts,

drank and cheered the pigskin violence

flashing from the television.

Gretel called him in

to check on the progress

of the dead fowl

bubbling in it's skin.

He leaned into the oven

in the same way that Hansel

would bend forward

when Father missed Mother

and needed release.

In one move

Gretel pushed Father in

and shut him out.

He was too numb to know.

Hansel joined his sister

at the pyre

to shrug off

the last meager efforts

of polluted pleas.

The children watched

as his eyes popped like corn

and his skin peeled

like weathered paint.

When they were sure he was dead

they removed his turkey pillow

and fed their stomachs

to digest the memory

of the monster burned like a witch.

On board a Greyhound

they raced with the moon.

Hansel dropped M&Ms from the window,

but the wind was too kind to allow for a trail back home.

He wasn't sure where they were going,

but the candied road ahead

was sure to promise a life

of happily ever after.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon

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