Märchen1 / Märchen2 / To Blake / Heaven (4 poems)



The knock was not at the door of his room, but at the door of his heart.

He went into the forest to lie in wait.
He had a fresh and joyous heart.
Before long he was much in love with the young witch.
He carried
delicate food to her.
She was immediately deprived of her human form.
She fell on her knees before him and said,
I will take a vomiting-potion.
So the wedding was celebrated.


For days,
she placed a chair,
gave him meals,
scolded him
and gave him his meals,

some days
without speaking.


In hell
everything is in order.


The best story
is a heap of burning coals
and a devil
working above ground:

Don't run, said the Devil.
Don't forget.
Look at all the pretty flowers.
I don't think you are listening to the song.

In hell
he did not wash, comb, or trim himself,
or wash the water out of his eyes.
In hell
he strolled about making music,
for he learned to do that.


Oh dear, the man and his wife sang together,
how uncomfortable I feel.
Oh dear, how frightened I have been.
How long shall I live?
What will be left for me to do but run from one corner to another and growl?


His young wife, meanwhile, had long wished for
an old witch of great might
of whom all the world was afraid.

The witch wished to be let in.

The witch knew nothing of all this.


A girl was so wise
that the enchantment vanished,

and she saw that she was standing
with her clothes lifted up

in a field that was blue with flowers.

To Blake[3]

Old singer,
look to the golden
wrath of the sun:

cruelty still stretches from garden
to garden. Time streams
over the graves.

Bright voice,
we are still prisoned
in the caves of the mind
where we count up
our weaknesses.

Call us up out of the ground.
I wish to be lost
in a morning thundering
with your sobs.

Sing us little sunrises.
Sing us a tender God.
Wish us remade for seeking:
travelers hungry and moving
and outstretched and changed,
endlessly free.


— like the true bride — is a riddle.
Like a drummer without thumbs.
Or a wonderful musician in the coffin.
Or shoes that were danced to pieces.

Heaven is a domestic wonder.
It is a foundling bird, a crumb of sausage.
It is a nail in the sweet porridge.

It is three green twigs under the boot. It's something
young among thorns.

It is a knapsack. Pick it up.

[1] A found poem derived from Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales.

[2] A found poem derived from Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales.

[3] A found poem derived from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.

[4] A found poem derived from Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales.

About the Author

Sarah Kortemeier

Sarah Kortemeier is a poet and librarian who grew up in the Mennonite tradition; her family roots are in the Mennonite farming communities of Central Illinois. Her first poetry collection, Ganbatte, is forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press, and her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Fairy Tale Review, The Feminist Wire, Pilgrimage, and Ploughshares, among others. She currently serves as Library Director at The University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson.