This is the tale of the woodman’s daughter, born with a box of ashes
set beside the bed.
She never learned to speak. Her life maimed by her father’s sorrow.
A single blow.
Next came the ball,
her helpless arms finding strength,
but too the obligation to return.
They say they lived happily ever after.
Some say the fable ended there,
but this is a fairy tale not yet written.
This body, so recently reformed, reclaimed,
but with hearts like blackjacks.
A suspicion, a doubt,
grew in my mind,
what if I forgot to kill myself?
My head dips, bleeds
over the ground, on tousled patches of grass.
I stared in the mirror,
and here it comes,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.
I don’t mind dying
ritually, since I always rise again
These events repeated themselves,
turning the hairs on my head to filthy snakes.
I’m foul mouthed now, foul tongued,
Wasn’t I beautiful
Wasn’t I fragrant and young?
Look at me now.
Agha Shahid Ali. “The Wolf's Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.” A Walk Through the Yellow Pages. SUN-Gemini Press, 1987.
Crucefix, Martyn. “George and the Dragon.” Beneath Tremendous Rain. Enitharmon Press, 1990.
Denise, Anna. “How to Change a Frog into a Prince.” Library of Congress, Poetry 180, 2003. https://www.loc.gov/programs/poetry-and-literature/poet-laureate/poet-laureate-projects/poetry-180/all-poems/item/poetry-180-176/how-to-change-a-frog-into-a-prince/.
Duffy, Carol Ann. “Medusa.” The World’s Wife. Picador, 1999.
Fanthorpe, U.A. “Not my Best Side.” Selected Poems. Enitharmon Press, 2014.
Howe, Sarah. “Tame.” Loop of Jade. Chatto & Windus, 2015.
Ng Yi-Sheng. “Ne Zha.” Last Boy. Firstfruits Publications, 2006.
Sexton, Anne. “Cinderella.” Transformations. Mariner Books, 1971.
Yolen, Jane. “Fat is not a Fairytale.” Such a Pretty Face: Tales of Power and Abundance, edited by Lee Martindale, Meisha Merlin Publishing, 2000.