when hansel comes to with
the witch dead at his feet, he hangs gretel
off him like a blood bag, drags
her toes through the dirt, and he thinks
she has to be broken in a ballet,
she has to be broken in a pirouette.
her toes continue to click in her shoes
years later, a crunch that he is
reminded of years later again
when the moon hung
like it does at midnight, as yellow as
a sick child, facing the forest. hansel
is rubbing his blue jeans like he does
sometimes, the heels of his palms
dragging the surface like nails on wood.
it feels like fire and coal, a numbing
that feels necessary until hansel says,
“stop.” and when he sees her
her face is white in the moonlight,
the fire that flickers when she doesn’t blink
with her own eyes. hansel thinks his sister
is broken in weakness, her hair clipped
dry like straw, her lips chapped like
the colors in a sunset, blue eyes hazed
like they are covered in dust. meanwhile
gretel’s thoughts dance in the moonlight,
her tongue slurring like a stomach does.
there is lasting survival that rots deep
in her gut, that knows when hansel thinks
his sister is broken. he’s right, in some ways:
that there is an orchestra caving to its peak
in her ears, a kink in her muscles that warms
at the thought of fear.
hansel thinks his sister is broken
in weakness, when really
she is broken at the thought
of a witch.
it spins like a carousel in front of her eyes
in the form of gnats, buzzes in her fingers
like flies when she knits. it combs through
her bangs and tucks the extra strands behind
her ears, never lets her miss anything
behind the veil of her hair.
hansel thinks his sister is broken,
and he tells her nothing when she says
to stop. he only stops, letting the words
fit over their heads like a drawling rope
him thinking that there are sometimes, like now,
where he thinks that maybe there’s something
behind the dust in her eyes, but he tries to
break the thought under the smack of his lips
when he tsks in a wordless scolding when he
draws the chair to leave. he thinks that there
was maybe something that happened between
him waking with the witch dead at his feet,
between dragging gretel through the dirt
like a blood bag. the thought only festers,
crunching in the back of his mind like her toes
in the dirt, like something you think you see in
the corner of your eye, but when you finally look
all you can see are the broken things of what
that could be.
he hangs at the thought.