Before the baby’s first cry,
he rolled her face into the cinders—
held it. Gripping (her) sinewed neck,
(he hefted) up his axe,
(watching) the cleanness
of its arc.
A single blow.
He stared in the mirror,
the blood (telling) as blood will,
feeling like a heap of shit.
Just when the tale
should have come to an end,
behind him, he watched as she (rose),
the hairs on (her) head (turning into) filthy snakes,
her helpless arms (finding) strength in wings.
Her breath soured,
(stinking) in the grey bags of her lungs.
Her--no, its presence choked him.
This body, so recently reformed, reclaimed,
shook (the) father until his teeth rattled and
dropped him sprawling on his knees.
Still, what could (he) do?
there’s a voice (outside).
“Ella, is that you?”
A moment’s hesitation.
(she) might be happy ever after with
Tears in (her) eyes,
the daughter soared to join her mother.
A narrow, iron bedstead
on which he lay, sadly diminished,
the chill wind with a mournful rustle,
she left him with a fate worse than death,
for grief is a powerful thing
and so ends the tale of the woodsman’s daughter.
Carter, Angela. “The Courtship of Mr Lyon.” The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Penguin, 1993.
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.
The Brothers Grimm. “Cinderella.” Grimm 021: Cinderella. https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm021.html.