What would you think
if I told you that I was magical?
That I had russet hair down to the backs of my knees
and the birds stole it for their nests
because it was stronger than horsehair and softer than down.
That when the storm winds roiled,
I could still them with a word.
That when I called, the gray geese would call back
come with us, sister, and I considered rising
on my own wings and following them south.
But if not me, who would make the winter come?
Who would breathe on the windows, creating landscapes of frost,
and hang icicles from the gutters?
I love the way this poem uses the power of classic fairytale images, without trying to subvert or twist them. It’s so easy these days to think that classic images are played out, and that the savvy modern author has to look at them with a jaundiced, or at least a self-referential, eye. But if I’m honest about it, I have to admit that my liking for most twisted, ‘adult’ fairy tales is mostly borrowed from my memories of the originals they are pastiching. I don’t usually want to read new takes on fairy tales: I want to read actual new fairy tales.
Theodora Goss’s poetry scratches that itch, pulling together just the things I’ve been longing for and treating them with the respect magic deserves and requires.