So many substitutions in this story:

stepmother for mother, brother for father,

morsels of muffin for little white stones,


and once the oven is hot, witch for boy,

and in earlier locations, Gretel for pearl,

girl for teeth, take my thumbs for chicken bones,


grandma, take my babies for wolf meat.

I’d give you my incisors, my mother said

when I knocked out my own, carrion for crow,


cave for castle, ogre for goat who suddenly regrets

he didn’t eat the damn kid when he could have.

It’s a wonder any of us get back home.

Lois Marie Harrod’s The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays) and her 11th book Brief Term, a poetry collection of about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard in March 2011.  She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey. Read more