March 26, 2012

February Contest Winner: Remember, When They Come, By Rachel Ayers

Oh my pretty little darlings--
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
and lived--
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.

4 comments

  1. What a lovely explanation of why fairy tales mean so much to us, even if we can't explain why!

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  2. I like that you referenced several well known fairy tales and wove them together with a common theme. Your alliteration at the poem's beginning is also very strong.

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  3. I thought this poem was actually very thought provoking. The mother seems to want to warn her children about all that is wrong in the world and the children know that they are strong enough to fight against it and withstand it. I feel like she also wants to make sure they always stay true to their beliefs and never let anyone take that away from them. She also wants them to know that love or another person cannot save them and that they can only save themselves and that they are responsible for their own happiness. The importance of family and of staying close to each other is a key point that she wants them to remember. I like how she says that “stories can be rewritten” and I think that is something for us all to remember. No matter whom we are or where we came from or what we’re going through, we can always change. We aren’t victims of our circumstance.

    Allison R.

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  4. This poem was a clever weaving of well-known fairy tales and some less-known tales. The lessons learned in the stories were beautifully written. The last two stanzas stuck out especially. The second to last stanza referring to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” broke my heart all over again as a reader, but that was part of the purpose. The narrator does not want her own child to experience such unrequited love. The poem does not just serve as a warning to the child, but as words of encouragement. The last stanza is so beautiful, reminding the child that although there are terrible things in this world, there is hope. The child can and will be successful because he/she will be prepared through learning the more in-depth lessons taught in fairy-tales. I like to think of the last stanza translated into something like: Prince Charming does not have to save you; you can save yourself.

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