Having been raised on Grimm
we mothers set rules: Don’t take apples
cakes or candies from strangers. Don’t fall
for promises. We call our children in
But the children want to dig up the trick
of being simultaneously brave
as oaks and rhododendrons quick-
change into robbers and bears.
They want to dangle the string of fear
that comes with angled shadows
and scraping sounds, to feel a burr
scratch their throats when they turn
and run, the string tripping them up
as their hearts race them home.
We mothers listen to the news.
We know how to spot fake kindness.
A witch has red eyes and can’t see far
but she’s like a beast with keen scent.
On a quiet day we mothers hear the witch
circling, circling—and we wish her boiled dead.