Hansel Brings His Grandchildren to See Where the Candy House Once Stood
At last: here. This clearing's welcome resting place
after that burl and thicket and maze of sunless forest.
Familiar birdsong. Cottonseeds spindle toward fading sky.
The odds always were against us, against now,
against all lost children: pennies squeezed in damp fists,
perfect circles through which to limp on crooked legs,
the impressions our flesh carries like a useless map.
Grandchildren, if you worry to see me lost thus
under the weight of memory, may it serve as warning:
peril does not always smell like tobacco
or wear black raincoat and loiter on sidewalks
and some damage does not shake free when you fall in love.
You are still young enough to care about being impolite
but my nonsense sounds like wisdom, so when I brag
about the finely tuned strings of my first girlfriend,
the one with the transparent bed and the pills
and the gambling, trust me that everything is connected.
Take these stones, though they cannot show us the way home -
we are hardwired to keep trophies, the way
we are hardwired to fear flame, the way we all feel
smaller and hungrier when the path begins to dwindle.
Amorak Huey recently left the newspaper business after 15 years as a reporter and editor, and he now teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His poetry has appeared recently in The Southern Review, Indiana Review, Oxford American and other journals. (www.amorakhuey.net)