Poem 175 - "Gretel"

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  1. DrEdu

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    This poem uses a fairy tale to examine a female stereotype.

    Andrea Hollander Budy


    A woman is born to this:
    sift, measure, mix, roll thin.


    She learns the dough until
    it folds into her skin and there is


    no difference. Much later
    she tries to lose it. Makes bets


    with herself and wins enough
    to keep trying. One day she begins


    that long walk in unfamiliar woods.
    She means to lose everything


    she is. She empties her dark pockets,
    dropping enough crumbs


    to feed all the men who have ever
    touched her or wished.


    When she reaches the clearing
    she is almost transparent—


    so thin
    the old woman in the house seizes


    only the brother. You know the rest:
    She won’t escape that oven. She’ll eat


    the crumbs meant for him, remember
    something of his touch, reach


    for the sifter and the cup.


    from House Without a Dreamer, 1993
    Story Line Press, Ashland, OR


    Copyright 1993 by Andrea Hollander Budy.
    All rights reserved.
    Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).
     

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