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This poem is part of our 2015 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.


. . . the truth of briars she had to have run through . . .”
Adrienne Rich

Here is what I know about briars:

They are democratic, all who run through them
are equally scratched, even the clothed ones,
even the ones well-suited in fur.

They are sympathetic, for they smile
deep into the skin, finding blood
more moving than tears.

They are necrotic, dealing death
in small doses, like an unfriendly doctor,
or a vampire, already satiated with blood.

They are neurotic, refusing
like a toddler at the table
to eat anything green.

The truth about briars is both simple
and complex, they hold fast
till a tear or tears make them let go,
like the prince, like me, like you.




Jane Yolen writes poetry for both children and adults. She is a past winner of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling award for a short poem, Dwarf Star Award for poems under ten lines, as well as being named by the Association as a Grand Master of science fiction and fantasy poetry. She is a frequent poetry contributor to such genre magazines as Asimov’s, Mythic Delirium, and Goblin Fruit. She has over 370 books published, a huge number of them poetry. Her books have won the Caldecott, the Christopher Medal, the Jewish Book Award, and two of her stories were Nebula winners. Three of her books won the Mythopoeic Award. Last year, she was named a winner of the New England Public Radio’s Arts and Humanities Award. And her Skylark Award set her good coat on fire.
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