N A'Yara Stein
Careful Who You Trust

A pocketful of pure white stones, a path:
Survival encourages subversion,
Tells children to eavesdrop on their parents,
To trespass, steal property, commit murder.
They lose track of time and soon they are lost.
Faced with famine, they depend on slim crumbs.

By noon they slip tongues between sweet bricks.
If they wonder who lives in a house like this
They don’t let it show and go on eating.
Gretel pushes out a sugared window-pane.

Now Hansel is growing fat in his cage.
Gretel carries water, does what she is told.
At bitter cost she watches and learns
Too late the message not to trust
The seeming generosity of strangers.

The moral to the story might not be moral:
They play at the game of eat or be eaten.
Gretel’s chicken bone, ingenuity of youth.
Here Hansel and Gretel will come of age.
They burn the cannibal witch, steal her jewels
For their father; how easily they forgive.