Hansel and Gretel


          ................eighteen nineteen twenty
every twenty paces Hansel dropped a crumb
ate one, one for his sister
          .................eighteen nineteen twenty
drop. Years later Hansel would tell his children
the taste of that bread, the texture, the colour
of wheat ripe with the sun, a compass of crumbs.

He promised his father to always hold his sister's hand
to chew each mouthful of bread slow and long and never
never turn back. Years later he would tell his children
about their grandparents secret whispers in the night
dark wails of hate of key-hole eyes in black boots
witches in black peaked caps, of ovens clothed in layers
of melting fairy floss. Of the path left or right his toss.

Left, or was it right his father instructed, don't eat
the fairy floss run from the witch and the ovens.
But flight is crippled when stomachs are empty
and we all know the story how they walked the wrong
path straight to the masked ball where a cottage
stood disguised as a cream sponge cake and a soldier
masquerading as an old woman in black boots and cap.

Years later Hansel would never tell,
his tongue always fell off at this point
at the moment his sister slipped
through the icing roof
through the branding pens
through the numbers game.

His tongue never betrayed him
never described the small moustache
on the old witch in black boots
or the sound an oven door makes
as it opens and shuts ..... opens and shuts
          ............. eighteen nineteen twenty

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About Josef Lesser


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Josef Lesser lives with his wife in Coffs Harbour which is on the mid-north coast of New South Wales Australia. "In my retirement I commenced writing poetry as a mode of sharing my thoughts and experiences with others. I believe poems are as distinct from one person to another as fingerprints." Josef's work has...read more been published in Australia, America, Canada and other overseas countries.
4 comments
Discussion
  4 months ago
Fascinating!
  21 months ago
I read this over and over and my mind is flickering from thought to thought.
Images of those jackboots.
“through the branding pens
Through the numbers game”
And those jackboots.
Birkenau, and things with names that my mouth does not form easily. Seal of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg.
And...read more those jackboots.
My mind returns to things I read years ago, the works of Corrie Ten Boom, of Irene Opdyke.
And those jackboots.
Josef Lesser, I am moved by this piece and I thank you for it.
  21 months ago
Super creepy. I'd like to read more versions of fairy tales like this.
  29 months ago
This is even more terrifying than the original Grimm's fairy tale and with good reason...beautifully penned, nuanced and every word an important one.

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