Size / / /

I hear the argument outside the house

each time my grandchildren arrive:

must we smile, must we thank her

even though she never gives us sweets?

Even great-uncle Hansel gives them cake

and cookies. At home, they eat desserts

and candied snacks, begin to whisper

I am the witch and not the victim

from the news, the not-quite-scary bedtime story.

They think I cannot bear to have sweets

in the house, but all these years,

I've shown restraint.

My brother, fast asleep, homesick and weary,

naive and blessed, never tasted that house

at sunrise: sugar stucco, caramel latch

that melted as I lifted it, dripping.

He snored. The witch gave me a spoonful

of pudding, exquisite, unlike anything

I've ever known. The hard sweetness

still burned my throat as she explained

the recipe, the flesh of youth cooked down,

and I must swallow, or choke. Ready disciple,

I learned I was a coward: too timid to push

my brother into the fire, too afraid to pull

the witch out when she fell.

Sweets still have their special taste:

gasoline, sometimes chalk. Vidalias

can get to be too much in allium season.

Still arguing, the children knock

and enter. Quite soon, their parents

will leave them here, alone with me,

the way my husband never let them be.

In my hunger, my lifetime abstinence,

I have long understood the frosting of deceit,

the ease with which one can believe

anything of gumdrops.




Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
Current Issue
3 Oct 2022

Lying in bed last night I felt fingers reach in, grabbing. I opened in spite of myself as you clawed me with your fingernails, flattened, panicked. Split throat, iron tongue, white masks ranged overhead, the rings on their fingers scraping me as they reached in to take you.
from my tower we climb, shroud as my veil. We leap on his fae steed
I tell smug Cyclops that I’m as gay as the next mutant, and that all mutants find themselves within battles
Get ready to feel hungry, because the theme for this quarterly roundup is food.
Wednesday: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo 
Wednesday: Where You Linger & Other Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam 
Issue 26 Sep 2022
Issue 21 Sep 2022
Issue 12 Sep 2022
Issue 5 Sep 2022
Issue 29 Aug 2022
By: Cat T.
Issue 22 Aug 2022
Issue 15 Aug 2022
Issue 8 Aug 2022
Issue 1 Aug 2022
Issue 18 Jul 2022
Load More
%d bloggers like this: