Louise Gluck’s riveting “Gretel in Darkness” is a favorite poem of mine and I couldn’t resist putting it in these enchanted woods. Gluck imagines Gretel years after she has pushed the old witch into the oven and burned her to death. When you think about it, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder seems a much more likely outcome for fairy tale characters than Happily Ever After.
Gretel in Darkness
BY LOUISE GLÜCK
This is the world we wanted.
All who would have seen us dead
are dead. I hear the witch’s cry
break in the moonlight through a sheet
of sugar: God rewards.
Her tongue shrivels into gas. . . .
Now, far from women’s arms
and memory of women, in our father’s hut
we sleep, are never hungry.
Why do I not forget?
My father bars the door, bars harm
from this house, and it is years.
No one remembers. Even you, my brother,
summer afternoons you look at me as though
you meant to leave,
as though it never happened.
But I killed for you. I see armed firs,
the spires of that gleaming kiln—
Nights I turn to you to hold me
but you are not there.
Am I alone? Spies
hiss in the stillness, Hansel,
we are there still and it is real, real,
that black forest and the fire in earnest.
Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” I left on a trail that runs along 3 spectacular waterfalls. (An earlier post on that poem here.) Winters in the U.P. are brutal. My neighbor who grew up near the Porkies now wears flip flops year round because Detroit winters are just not that cold to him after a childhood of playing outside in twenty below.
And finally, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall.” (A much longer post on that poem here.)
Will the poem outlast the leaves?
Goodbye, U.P.! Till next year!