She’s never alone. The children
follow the path to her house,
where warm broth and soft beds
await them. She knows
they will come to regret it—
she cannot help her nature.
The bright roof is in constant
need of repairs. With so many
mouths to feed, she’s had
to cut corners. Not everything
around her yard is edible
any longer. But she’s earnest
when twisting the neck
of her fattest chicken, bent
on making the children feel
welcome. She doesn’t skimp
on cinnamon, honey, and ginger.
They have never eaten so well.
Back at home, they sleep
on corn shucks, ready to bolt
when drunken fathers trip over
the threshold, when put-upon
stepmothers have had enough
and send the kids off to the woods
with a handful of bread crumbs.