The Wheel of Time

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ – my first page for The Season of Fairy Tales, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

I was so excited when I heard about this particular season at Get Messy Art Journal. I have always loved fairy tales and imagined I could easily spend a year diving into the treasure chest of these beloved stories. But when the day came, I found I didn’t know where to start. There is so much I want to explore and this made it even more challenging to begin.

Inspiration came to me while I was enjoying a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ with some friends. The messages attached to each tea bag reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening:

In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

Magazine images are not usually my first point of call when I’m working on an art journal page. With a subject such as fairy tales, however, I suddenly realised how almost every magazine image draws upon our associations with these magical stories. The opulent gowns and jewels are straight out of Cinderella’s ball. The women are often portrayed archetypally as innocent maidens or sultry seductresses with magical powers.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, time works as a kind of antagonist. It cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time.

It occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time. So many of our struggles are ‘against the clock’, rushing to squeeze more hours into the day, or even more impossibly, trying to prevent our own aging processes (back to many of the adverts in magazines – “try this new product! It will work like magic and prevent you from getting old!”)

I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page:

I love how these little messages point to an inner experience and enjoyment of life – a realm in which the spinning wheel of time has no dominion. I might just go and brew a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ right now. I wonder what message is waiting for me today?

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

The Goose Girl

She is returning home,
face proud with blood,
eyes no longer the same.

The geese are my brothers, she says.
This was once my own goose foot,
too tender to walk on sharp stone.

After digging in the soil,
it is light as it rests in her palm.
She will carry it with her, always.

The moon, dark with sorrow,
has the answers to all her questions.
There are too many now to tell.

* * *

Today’s poem uses another technique that I learned from Barbara Marsh in Writing Poetry: Experiments in Choice and Chance. The technique: choose a poem that you do not know well, preferably one that you have never read before. After each line of the poem, write your own line in response. Then lift out your own lines and use them as the basis for a new poem.

For my starting point, I chose Loneliness by Meg Kearney. I tried not to read the poem before working with it. (Although I enjoyed it tremendously afterwards!) The resulting piece evokes the world of Grimm fairytales. Working from someone else’s poem rather than my own ideas allowed the poem to retain an atmosphere of mystery, even to myself.

That Night With Her

When she
entered the chamber,
her feet
hardly touched the ground,
so light she was,
like a marigold petal,
carried
on cool currents of air.

And I,
who lay trapped in the dark,
could sense her presence,
felt the tremor
of sobs
as they shook
my mattressed coffin—
I, who should feel nothing.

There, in the dark,
I tasted the blood and salt
of her strange suffering —
this bride to be,
already covered in bruises.
There in my tomb,
I drank from her cup,
the wine of delirious emotion. 

It stained me red;
it gave me back my soul.

* * *

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth. I love myths and fairytales and I found this prompt to be an inspiring one. I wrote two poems, each exploring food as character.

‘That Night With Her’ is written in the voice of the pea in The Princess and the Pea. To Be Devoured is written in the voice of the cake in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket.

To Be Devoured

The cool white cloth
wrapped itself around me.
Mother made it with her own hands
just like she made me.

She wrapped the girl in red,
but the girl protested,
stamped her foot,
face like a corkscrew.

I laughed to myself,
Don’t look so pretty now, do you?

She wore the cape in the end,
stormed out of the house,
swung me roughly in my basket
as she tore down the path.

Stop! I shouted.
Are you trying to kill me?

She calmed a little,
sung us both a ditty
about love and buttercups and mandolins.
Her voice soothed my seasick soul.

(I almost liked her then.)

I lost myself in daydreams —
Granny would caress me
say how sweet I smelled,
all almonds and cinnamon.

The girl hated Granny’s kisses.
How her cheek glistened with saliva!
I saw her wipe her face
when Granny turned away to stoke the fire.

Oh, Granny!
Won’t you consume me with your kisses?

A voice wrenched me from my reverie.
His eyes deep as the forest,
drool dripping
from the corners of his mouth.

It was me he wanted, not her.
All she cared about was skipping in the grass.

I let him know
I longed to be devoured,
longed to give myself
to the wild green of his eyes.

* * *

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth. I love myths and fairytales and I found this prompt to be an inspiring one. I wrote two poems, each exploring food as character.

‘To Be Devoured’ is written in the voice of the cake in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket. That Night With Her is written in the voice of the pea in The Princess and the Pea.

I’m feeling a little hungry now. I think I need to go and eat a piece of cake!

A Royal Conversation

Be easy

(Source text: ‘The Willow-Wren and the Bear’ by The Brothers Grimm)

For more blackout poems click here.

Storytelling seeds

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Illustration by Wayne Anderson

When it comes to telling a story, either live or written down in a handmade story book, I prefer to make up the story as I go along. This ensures that the telling of the tale is a journey of discovery from start to finish – for me, as well as for the reader.

Even though I aim to start with an empty mind, it helps to have a seed around which the story can grow. Continue reading