Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

The Gingerbread Dress
Lilla Ashley

The witch is standing in her moon-filled house,
surrounded by slats of pine wood and clear glass
She wears flecked rags of black, her eyes
of blue oil-flint, watch us beneath their wilted hoods
My brother, jewel-bread hidden in his hand
I am singing lullabies as we walk in the woods
Petals splinter beneath our bare heels,
we will never go home. Father wanted us lost.
The witch comes to us, our drowsy bodies
clasped in her arms. Now she wears
a dress of gingerbread, the black rags shattered.
At her throat pearls gather, glittering crumbs.
She is beautiful for us. She promises
custard and plums, pale morsels of food.
There is a black kettle, a shining fire
Our twig-beds will go by the oven
I still sing lullabies, she does not mind.
Hansel grunts like a pig and reaches for candy
Among the woods we are caught in
a net of her moon-sugar, her dark cackle
She spits into the fire, rubbing her gray hands
together, a shadow-flare upon the wall
Her gingerbread dress smothers Hansel.
I wake in bed, the dream washed away
My brother’s belly in the dark, filled
with meat and eggs from our farm. She
never fed him. But I feel the dress flit
against my eyes, the gingerbread dress
cemented with lace. The moon looks away,
and her sugar comes finely into my veins.

Lilla Ashley lives under the old ivy, next to the white rose in Rappaccini’s locked garden.