Mari Ness is not quite as obsessed with myth and fairy tale as her work might suggest. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Tor.com, Clarkesworld Magazine, Apex Magazine,Daily Science Fiction, and Goblin Fruit. For more, check out her webpage at marikness.wordpress.com, or follow her on Twitter at @mari_ness.
The Thirteenth Child
If our thirteenth child is a girl, all her twelve brothers must die, so that she may be very rich, and the kingdom hers and hers alone.
from Household Tales, collected by the Brothers Grimm.
I never knew
their names. Only
in one straight line,
filling the cold grey crypt.
I never wanted
more bones. Only
in my hands,
toys for our plain stone halls.
Oof, this poem–the repetition through the stanzas (until the last one) and the exploration of a single line from the Brothers Grimm just gets me every time I read it. The short lines and repetitive language really serve to bring home the subject of the poem: the loneliness and isolation of the speaker in the wake of her brothers’ murders. I have a real weakness for poems which deal with mythic or fairy tale subjects, so this poem is the jam to my toast. Or something like that.