Andrea Hollander Budy

This poem uses a fairy tale to examine a female stereotype.

A woman is born to this:
sift, measure, mix, roll thin.
She learns the dough until
it folds into her skin and there is
no difference. Much later
she tries to lose it. Makes bets
with herself and wins enough
to keep trying. One day she begins
that long walk in unfamiliar woods.
She means to lose everything
she is. She empties her dark pockets,
dropping enough crumbs
to feed all the men who have ever
touched her or wished.
When she reaches the clearing
she is almost transparent—
so thin
the old woman in the house seizes
only the brother. You know the rest:
She won’t escape that oven. She’ll eat
the crumbs meant for him, remember
something of his touch, reach
for the sifter and the cup.

from House Without a Dreamer, 1993
Story Line Press, Ashland, OR