“Gretel” by Andrea Hollander
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
A woman is born to this: sift, measure, mix, roll thin. She learns the dough until it folds into her skin and there is no difference. Much later she tries to lose it. Makes bets with herself and wins enough to keep trying. One day she begins that long walk in unfamiliar woods. She means to lose everything she is. She empties her dark pockets, dropping enough crumbs to feed all the men who have ever touched her or wished. When she reaches the clearing she is almost transparent— so thin the old woman in the house seizes only the brother. You know the rest: She won’t escape that oven. She’ll eat the crumbs meant for him, remember something of his touch, reach for the sifter and the cup.
from House Without a Dreamer, 1993
Story Line Press, Ashland, OR
Copyright 1993 by Andrea Hollander Budy.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Story Line Press from House Without a Dreamer, 1993. Copyright 1993 by Andrea Hollander Budy. For further permissions information, contact Permissions Department, Story Line Press, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Poet
Andrea Hollander (1947- ) is the author of five poetry collections, including Landscape with Female Figure: New and Selected Poems 1982-2012 (Autumn House Press, 2014).
Learn more about Andrea Hollander at The Poetry Foundation.