would be a child in a house made of pastry
and confections, overtaken with craving,
with wanting, eating the very walls she lived
in. Filling her mouth with cavities and butterscotch
tablets; soon, the door buckles, each bready
mouthful ripping away stability and licorice.
A gum drop doorknob that never really turned;
she was always stuck inside.
Here, now, the stomachache; the acidic
twist and turn of guts, the churn of sour
liquid, like buttermilk two days in the sun.
Later, writhes and clenched hands and gritted
teeth that bare down so hard they crack. Soft
tormented squeaks and layers of haze – she doesn’t
understand this consequence, this after-sweetness
smog. No longer the child of eating, only of aching.
That gingerbread house, those wafer ceiling tiles, the chewy
citrus hardware on sinks and cupboard doors,
pillows of mallow, blankets of fruit slices so sugared
they grow soft and see through. Of course she wants
the sticky granules lodged under her fingernails
from the bottom of a candy bag. Of course she wants
to want, now, curled on the floor in puddles of sweat
and sick. Of course she wants that moment of mmm.
Hannah Newman is a founding Editor-in-Chief of Sweet Tree Review and holds an MFA from Western Washington University. She is currently working on a collection of short stories about women, ghosts, and joy. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading obscure fairy tales and drinking too many cups of coffee. Her work can be found in or is forthcoming from Entropy, Stirring, Hobart, Yemassee, and elsewhere.
Artwork: Abigail Larson