Gretels

by Liz N. Clift

I remember the way we used frosting
to paste graham crackers to the sides of milk cartons,
the way we laid gum drops or Red Hots
for roofing tiles, licorice whips for trim,
sugar cubes mortared with royal icing
as a low stone wall, unlike the wood rail
fences of our own houses, the Necco wafers
that became stepping stones to a door
made out of carefully cut Fruit-by-the-Foot,
the way these houses built of sugar
seemed more real than our own houses,
how we constructed lives for the people
who didn’t live inside, how the mother
and father weren’t speaking to each other,
and that’s why the kids built a snowman
in the front yard out of white fudge covered
Oreos, and the snowman was bigger
than the house, because the parents
had been fighting so long, and no wonder
the children wandered off into the woods,
without even leaving a trail of crumbs behind:
who wouldn’t want to find hope in a house
of gingerbread when your own home
is a poor substitute, and no matter how good
it looks from the outside looks, the inside is empty:
white-walled and loveless, and we when we finished
the final flourishes – chimneys that threatened
to slide off the roofs, M&M flower gardens
that followed the walkway – we went out
to throw ourselves in the snow, to sweep
our arms and legs, make angels.

 

Liz N. Clift holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Hobart, Rattle, Passages North, The Collagist, and elsewhere. She lives in Colorado.

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