The Mere King
by Theodora Goss
The mere king lives in the murk and mud,
and I would rescue him if I could,
but another witch cursed him long ago,
and how to break it, I just don’t know.
I don’t think the kiss of true love would do,
or I’d attempt it — there’s not much to
the process, though I’m not a princess fair.
You just have to look at my long green hair
to notice that, and my yellow eyes.
I’m attractive in my own way, and wise
in secrets and spells, so I think the king
would find me sufficiently alluring.
But there’s more to it, that’s what I fear,
when he stares down with such despair
at the deep green water in slimy pools
while out of his beard grow pale toadstools
and robins build a nest in his hair.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t care
so much what became of him — a witch
should have no heart, should feel no ache
in her chest at all. Alas for me
that I did not remove it properly
and tie it up in a burlap sack,
then hang it from an ancient oak,
where it would not hear the mere king groan
and weep with pity, and be undone.
(The image is an illustration by John Bauer.)