The dusty attic of the human mind
is choked with a sprawling, cobwebby pile
of junk accumulated over the years.
A cramped glass stiletto
(with a mouse
trapped in its toe)
and a pair of red shoes with an evil leer.
A frog croaking wistfully,
lost in the gilded circle
of a princess’ heavy crown.
An overflowing porridge pot and
a golden apple, marked with a
bite gone brown.
A donkey skin which is stained with blood,
and a pair of
– amputated –
A few pomegranate seeds scattered like red tears
on the lid of an empty box with a bleeding key
A broken laurel branch carelessly jammed
Into a dusty jar of magic wands.
From under the heap, a woman emerges
brushes poppy seeds and salt grains from her body,
revealing its (non-symbolic) naked glory.
She stretches cramped limbs,
ties back her flowing hair,
and heads off to create a more original story.
This post responds to One Single Impression’s prompt of “myth”. It picks up on a theme in an earlier post – that some myths imprison rather than inspire, particularly the myths about women.
The myths or fairy tales referenced here are all about women in some way or other, and have often been used to suggest that women’s domestic or passive sexual qualities are the only ones that matter, and that curiosity, desire and independence have no place. Some are less familar or oblique references, so I’ve provided links below.
Some of these stories feature in Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women who Run with the Wolves, which digs into the heart of these stories to find a much more affirming message for women. (For example, many of the interpretations of Bluebeard are judgemental about the woman’s curiosity and lack of self restraint in opening the door, rather than applauding her courageous determination to find out the truth.) I really enjoyed that book and found a lot of resonances in her interpretations. Here I’m thinking of the surface meanings which are much more apparent in our societies.
Photo – Junk by Carrie Always at flickr.
The red shoes
The frog prince
Crown – any story where the ideal is to be a princess!
The magic porridge pot
Golden apples appear all over the place e.g. Atalanta, the judgement of Paris
Donkey skin – for a heart-breaking retelling of this story, I really recommend Robin McKinley’s Deerskin
The handless maiden
Bluebeard (see also my earlier poem “Opening the Door“)
Magic wands – thinking mostly of Cinderella again!
Seeds and salt – tales like Vasilissa or Rumpelstiltskin where the heroine must sort huge piles of grain.