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Your stories make me feel uneasy
Or is that just the glass slicing open
the soles of my feet?

You insist on your modernity

Wolves have been menacing us
since woods were only acorns
We’ve been told
since eternity’s first grumpy yawns
that if we want out of the cinders
we must be the most beautiful
one at the ball
Even if it means
wearing the very heavens
putting up with
the sun’s exhausting heat
the moon’s cold bite
and all those spiky
bits of stars

Apparently we should abandon
classical pantheons
and structures
but not the ridiculous
you keep making of us

Only jeweled words
should escape our lips
Nothing that hisses
or snarls
And no wish we could make
is more worthy
than beauty

How curious!
How convenient!
According to you
beauty isn’t necessarily
accompanied by intellect
but intelligence may be provided
by a husband
The same husband
who might declare
a door forbidden
because it hides
his dead wives?

You would have us be
so still and quiet
never entering woods
opening doors
touching spindles
You would give us
fewer options
than you grant
a clever cat

It seems after all
and moderns
agree on some things

While engrossed
in your quarrel
here’s a thing you’ve overlooked

like so many of us
choose instead
to wear fancy shoes
of my choosing
and shape the world
to suit myself

Devan Barlow writes the Curses & Curtains series of fairy tales-meet-musicals fantasy novels. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in several anthologies and magazines. She can be found at her website or on Bluesky She reads voraciously, and can often be found hanging out with her dog.
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13 May 2024

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