Milo Gallagher

hansel & gretel


funny to see you here, gretel,
though neither of us is laughing
again we walk through the bluebell woods,
holding hands and yours are
sticky with candy — licorice tangles,
saltwater taffy sticking in your teeth,
the spit too bright in your throat —

because what you crave
causes you to ache, also


once we slept on an air mattress,
cradling us like a tremulous cloud
i wished to become a boy
overnight, for you to wake
and find me bearded,
chin soft as river moss


some days i want to chop my breasts off
and feed them to the wolves
i want that scar tissue: cherry petals


in my dream it is last winter
and your mother is red-faced in the kitchen again,
her hair coming down in cobwebs
and all around us that same old lemon-chicken smell
she asks if kissing other girls
we two are the same, now,

if you are confused like me,
if there are parts of your body you want to chop off
and feed to the wolves
she asks, why do you hate yourself — the oven
starts to smoke — why do you hate me


and then you went back to whispering into a locked box
and then we started visiting the witch’s house


we have to mark a different path each time,
skirt quickly past thickets
of fangs and yellow eyes,
but then there’s the open door,
spiced light streaming out

the witch feeds us bone-marrow broth,
tells us stories about these woods
she wants us to be strong
no one has told us these stories before  
no one even told us the woods were real


at midnight her coven drops by,
dressed the way you and i dress in our dreams,
draped in jewels and fox-fur,
their cackles loud and unfraid —

though they have the right to be —
wine-drunk, they dance around the blue fire
for us, but mostly for each other
they are not confused at all
they know exactly what they are

Milo Gallagher lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review and online at The Fem, The Grief Diaries, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere.