She is the hag of fairy tales, the woman with the hunched back and the craning neck, and she lives in a flagstone cottage in the forest’s belly. She has wet, black eyes and covers her wrinkles in stitched burlap not quilted, grim rags. And in your dreams you find her as though you are in a book. You are Gretel chasing after the boy who stands licking the spicy sweet of a peppermint stick, except there is no boy and no peppermint stick. There is only you approaching the porch where the old woman bends over a workbench. Sit, she says, let me clean your wound. So you sit on the bench, and she opens your dress, and as a new moon scales the stars she sucks until the blood runs clear and the embryo slips into a dreamless past.
Originally published in Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep (Red Claw Press, 2012)