by Constance Cooper
With turrets made of ice-cream cones, a roof of Necco slate,
It forms a winter centerpiece for this small-town bazaar:
A frosted castle of a house, the best I could create.
First prize again—they say that it’s my finest work so far.
The young ones press up close to stare. They breathe the spice-brown smell,
And eye the candy-striped arcades, the gumdrops sweetly placed.
Their tongue-tips show, their mouths are wet, they crave it, I can tell,
As sweaty fingers cross the velvet rope to pinch a taste.
But then the watchful mothers pull those tender hands away.
“Don’t touch! It’s just to look at, not to eat,” they gently scold,
And lead their children quickly past the rest of the display.
Perhaps that wretched fairy tale still hasn’t lost its hold.
But on an ill-lit table in the back part of the hall
The tenth-place house sits all forlorn, ignored by adult eyes.
A tilt-walled shack with runny snow, its windows rough and small—
But still the sugar beckons them. This year I have grown wise.
Here, little fawn, come steal a bite. Your parents needn’t see.
What happens next? It all depends upon your point of view.
My life is so much richer now I’ve learned topology—
You’re just as much inside my house, as it’s inside of you.
And there you’ll stay, where eaves are fanged with icy drips of sweet,
Where red-swirled paving stones lead to a frosting-sketch of door.
You’ll soon grow soft and fat with only gingerbread to eat,
Till I consume my humble trap, down to its luscious core.
Constance Cooper has worked as a journalist, balloon animal twister, linguistic researcher and software engineer. She has sold work to Asimov’s Science Fiction, Black Gate, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and Mythic Delirium. Find out more about her writing at http://constance.bierner.org.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish