The Witch Has Told You a Story

By Ava Leavell Haymon
You are food.
You are here for me
to eat. Fatten up,
and I will like you better.

Your brother will be first,
you must wait your turn.
Feed him yourself, you will
learn to do it. You will take him

eggs with yellow sauce, muffins
torn apart and leaking butter, fried meats
late in the morning, and always sweets
in a sticky parade from the kitchen.

His vigilance, an ice pick of   hunger
pricking his insides, will melt
in the unctuous cream fillings.
He will forget. He will thank you

for it. His little finger stuck every day
through cracks in the bars
will grow sleek and round,
his hollow face swell

like the moon. He will stop dreaming
about fear in the woods without food.
He will lean toward the maw
of   the oven as it opens

every afternoon, sighing
better and better smells.

NOTES: This poem originally appeared in "Poetry Not Written for Children that Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy," by Lemony Snicket.

“The Witch Has Told You a Story” is reprinted by permission of Lousiana State University Press.

Source: Poetry (September 2013).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2013

Biography

Ava Leavell Haymon is the author of, most recently, Eldest Daughter (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Mythology & Folklore, Fairy-tales & Legends

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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