Four Poems from the Brothers Grimm by Sarah Kortemeier – The Feminist Wire

Four Poems from the Brothers Grimm by Sarah Kortemeier




In older times, when wishes still helped,


youth was the witch.


A small man lived like a king and also like a daughter.


A queen died, and twelve windows stilled her children.


The youngest people worked at naming.


A lonely giant wished to see his own forehead.


A mother baked one huge day.


An evening became sick.


The world was a maiden and was poor,


and money loved the front of us.







The youngest daughter was so beautiful that

she began to weep;

she wept and wept as if she could never be comforted.


He answered,

love me

have me

let me





let me in

open to me


The king noticed.

Perform, said the king.


She opened the door

so everybody might see


silken bed.


She picked him up

with rage

and threw him with all her strength

against the wall.


As he fell

they became bride and bridegroom.


She (by her father’s consent)

ceased to be.


He was obliged to wear

three iron bands over his heart

as if something had broken.









Do be quiet, he said. I will manage



Don’t cry, and go to sleep quietly.


She stood by the window and gnawed.


She perceived.


She ran away.


No, she answered, we can go separately,

one after the other.








Should love

be ashes on the path

be uneasy without

knowing why

be the greatest stillness?



Sweetheart, the dream is not ended.

Sweetheart, the dream is not yet ended.

Sweetheart, my dream is not yet ended.



Here is the finger with the ring.







A bride,

ashamed of her ugliness,

mocked and laughed at,


put on wedding-clothes.

Dressed herself

in terrible passion.


Her immeasurable ugliness

was rewarded

by having her head cut off.


She remained standing a long time.






God put joy in the Devil.

The maiden was a house full of fire.


The world stood back a little.

The girl just stood.


The girl was obliged to become God.

The wedding was full of night.


The wicked bride threw children into the world.

The King was never home.


She gave the child three kingdoms.

She threw water on her drowned daughter.


The earth received its days and was still.


Death must never know how much nothing we mastered together.


Sarah Kortemeier holds an MFA from The University of Arizona. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly Review, Folio, Fairy Tale Review, Sentence, and Pilgrimage, among others. She serves on the library staff of The University of Arizona Poetry Center.


Photo credit: Hannah Ensor