by Merie Kirby

Why Thumbelina for a name?
She never thought to ask, when she had a chance.

She knew the story of the wish,
knew her mother believed her tiny, sweet, delicate.

Why not Lily? Why not Violet or Pansy?
Why the size of your thumb? Why say your wish that way?

Questions she would ask.
She wanted to know if it was a blessing or a curse,

if her mother, getting what she wished for, exactly,
really felt her desire had been fulfilled,

or if a small lozenge of bitterness lodged in her throat
every time she called her daughter’s name.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem comes from a chapbook-length collection of poems that are about Thumbelina, and also about being a daughter, creating and shaping your own story, and, in turn, becoming a mother.

IMAGE: “Thumbelina and the Swallow,” jointed paper doll by Five and Ninteteen, available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merie Kirby received her MFA from the University of Minnesota and teaches at the University of North Dakota. Her poems have been published in North Coast Review, Avocat, and other journals. She’s the author of the chapbook, The Dog Runs On, available from Finishing Line Press, and in September she was a contributing poet to Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project.