February Contest Winner: Remember, When They Come, By Rachel Ayers
how I wish to warn you of the wicked
ways of the world:
The evil means and minds
of monsters who will make a meal
from your sweet soft flesh.
Let me tell you about the girl
in red who fought the wolves
I know you can be just as clever,
my tiny ones.
But will you believe me
if I come to you, all stuff and nonsense
about the dark hearts of the fair folk?
I shall spin you a tale
instead; and leave it to ruminate
within your soul, in hope --
The brother and sister, lost
in the woods, following pebbles
and breadcrumbs, wandering
in circles until they find
their sticky-sweet salvation.
-- when the time comes,
you will know what to do. You will
act without hesitation
move with conviction
Though you know not why or where
the instinct comes from.
Remember the princess who fled
her wicked father and danced
for a handsome young prince. His mother
took her children, said she was a demon
and had her buried to her neck in burning sand.
Did you think that love
would solve all your problems?
That would be too easy.
Grow strong for yourself and for each other,
be good to your sisters and brothers.
Trust yourself; trust your granny.
In this big dark sea there's always someone
willing to take your voice--
don't trade it away; fight for it
because you may love the prince but
you'll waste away to seafoam before he sees you.
I'll wrap it up as a metaphor,
give you the coded key.
Remember that curses can be broken,
stories can be rewritten:
When the monsters come,
you will be ready.
Rachel tells us: "I have a Creative Writing major from Pittsburg State University. My novelette "Sister and Serpent" won Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, and my story "Job Hunting" won First Prize in the 2010 HarperCollins Radiant Prose contest. My work has appeared in: Isabelle Rose's Twisted Fairy Tale Anthology volumes 1 and 2 (Wicked East Press), ChiZine, Living With the Dead: Year One, and Enchanted Conversation."
Illustration from "Hansel and Gretel" by Jennie Harbour.