Monday, January 2, 2017

Troll Wife (Poem)

I usually pick a theme for my MOP efforts - in past years I have done Narnia, Women of the Torah, and Women of Mythology. This year I am doing Women of Fairytale, but what I am trying to do is to unpick the message / motivation behind the story (or make one up if that works better!)

Today's poem is based on an Icelandic fairytale called The Witch in the Stone Boat, which was in a fairytale collection I had as a child. The story is one of substitution and glamour magic, where a witch takes the place of the rightful queen, but her behaviour is then totally different. I speculated on what this might be a metaphor for.

Troll Wife

He looks at her with baffled fury and says:
You didn’t used to be like this

She hitches the screaming toddler higher on her hip and says
Well, this used to not be my life, either
you going out all night and me here with nothing
but the dark and the animal breath of half-sleeping children

He makes a fist, and says, I ought to -
She laughs. You ought to what?
He shakes his head. No words come.

She stares out the window and thinks of the stone boat
sailing with cool granite under her feet
seeing him, straw-haired, hard-jawed, and thinking:
if only I had that, I would be happy forever

the stars in the sky say: Oh lady, lady
and she keens back, where am I, where
who is this brown-eyed woman in the linen shift who holds my son

and the boat sails on to the underworld
as he closes the door behind him.

- Kathy, 2/1/17

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