Fairy Tales

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We were children, trapped in coddling innocence.
Our future a blurred dream,
our expectations reflecting limited experience:
dappled shadows dancing beneath sun-lit trees,
daisies on a fragrant lawn,
icecream on the beach,
flares that burnt fast-fading holes in our sight,
leaving scars that would not be discerned
until we reached a certain age.

Avidly, we absorbed oft-repeated bed-time stories
which left us believing
that evil was easily recognised,
since it arrived in ugly shapes
and was always defeated.
Only the good were beautiful;
all aches rinsed away by the chaste kiss
of a handsome Prince;
all kingdoms gained by betrothal.

Sometimes
injustice was perverted
by the person who pushed the pen.

Jack trespassed in the giant’s den,
following up his crime with killing and looting,
that he may live out his days
in tainted luxury.

Dick Whittington was assisted by a sly cat,
thereby obtaining his elite position
through deceit and lies.

The unfortunate daughter
of the silly miller who issued false boasts
was locked in a cell
by an avaricious king who wanted more gold.
Rumpelstiltskin offered a tough deal, but the girl
agreed to give him her first-born.
His mistake was in singing out his name, thinking
that no-one was listening.
In retrospect,
the entire cast behaved in a shabby way.

As for Goldilocks,
at least she learnt to steer clear
of burglary.

Not all the stories had happy endings.

The Babes in the Wood were buried beneath burnished leaves
by grieving birds and beasts, their lives curtailed by starvation,

The Little Match Girl was taken to a better place when she died,
yet I decry the shuttered eyes that caused her suffering in life.

So many fictions to pick through
in our sheltered realm
where parents swept salve on every wound,
our consciousness trusting that we
were charmed and good.

We would win the Prince;
a Kingdom we would rule.

We never knew that corruption
had mingled with truth
and sullied our very bones.


P.S.

Let’s scoop away the fairy tales
that recommend a life of greed
and justify the crimes we sweep
beneath our rusting thrones.
The whole world knows that children weep
while mothers die in hungered sleep
and thieves will feed on living flesh
engraving teeth-marks in the bones.

Don’t feed on living flesh,
don’t scrape away the bones.
Live an honest life of peace,
and leave the fairy tales alone.


©Jane Paterson Basil

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13 thoughts on “Fairy Tales

    1. Thank you, Lona. It strayed from what I’d intended to write, but that’s a good thing; it’s the way it was before depression wrestled me to the ground a couple of months back.

      I feel so encouraged that I’m thinking of having a go at D’verse’s challenge, but it might not happen…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Jane, This is so great, important! Those “shuttered eyes!” What an image, and the crux of Little Match Girl, living in love and peace, yes,that is the truth, everything else is just a… well you said it. 😉 🧚‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lona! Maybe I’m a killjoy, but I think the telling of some of those fairy tales needs to be followed up with discussion. Children shouldn’t be fed the subliminal message that it’s fine to cheat as long as you win xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right, when I was nine I worked through the classic copy of old school Grimm’s tales, I devoured them, perhaps because I sensed a certain level of both compassion and brutality that was more authentic if extreme than the sanitized edited tropes we were allowed; reading of a decapitated horse head pronounce prophetic justice and the antagonist getting a punishment of being rolled in a barrel of nails were stark images. My mom knew what was in the book, I don’t think my Dad did. I agree, needs parental context.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh! And you would fit so well at dVerse, I got the quadrille in, but I won’t have time to do Sarah’s harbinger challenge, but you would actually be a stand out there I think. Hugs and pixie dust your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pixie dust! No-one has ever showered me with pixie dust before – although the Green Man (it’s an English thing) scattered glitter over me once at a folk festival.

      Unfortunately it landed in my eyes… maybe I’ll blame that for my tardiness re. dVerse – I can claim that I couldn’t see to write; but you must be tired of my excuses.

      Like

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