This selection is from Mary McMyne’s chapbook, Wolf Skin.
The Woodcutter’s Wife
“Lead them into the middle of the thickest part of the woods,
make a fire for them, and leave them there, for we can
no longer feed them.”
– from “Hansel and Gretel” (Grimm tr. Ashliman, 1812)
It rained all that summer. The blight
took the carrots first, then the potatoes;
a mosaic of black laced the turnip leaves.
By winter, none of us had eaten anything
but dandelion soup and warmed water,
dirt and thimbles of grain in weeks.
The boy scrambled in the cupboard, stealing
precious seeds. The girl went looking for berries
but found only husks, a hive of dreaming bees.
The beast that slept at the bottom
of my belly woke; thin-tailed, wild-eyed
wreck of saliva and tiny-fanged teeth,
it danced in its hollow den – howled,
stamped, and clawed the walls – until
I knew nothing else but its desire to feed.
Make a fire for them, I told my husband.
It was kindness. Let them find their own way,
far away from us, among the trees.
Mary McMyne is the author of Wolf Skin, a chapbook (dancing girl press, 2014). She grew up in south Louisiana, studying English and creative writing at Louisiana State University before moving to the east coast to study fiction. Since earning her MFA from New York University, her poems and stories have appeared in Word Riot, Pedestal Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, New Delta Review, and many other publications. Her criticism has appeared in American Book Review. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award, and her fiction has won the Faulkner Prize for a Novel-in-Progress and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award. Since 2011, she has lived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, where she is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing and an assistant professor at Lake Superior State University. Learn more at marymcmyne.com.
Meagan Cass is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she teaches courses in creative writing, independent publishing, and composition, curates the Shelterbelt reading series, and advises the campus literary journal, the Alchemist Review. Her fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Hobart Web, PANK, and Puerto del Sol, among other journals. Magic Helicopter Press will publish her first fiction chapbook, Range of Motion, in January 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.