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Poem of the Week: 'Fairy Tales' by Jennifer Copley

Fairy Tales

In fairy tales, only the good fairy wears wings.
Others are too hump-backed
or, beautiful but wicked, appear
on frosted sleighs when no one's looking,
slide ice splinters into untrue hearts.

Even brothers and sisters get separated –
boys turned into swans,
girls put in tall towers
where they have to climb down their own hair
to escape, then wander the earth

with thorns in their eyes.
They stretch out their arms in front,
cock their heads to the music of the red shoes.
Children, smelling of gingerbread,
cry out to them from cages.

They're only fairy tales, say our mothers,
who serve us porridge that's far too hot;
and who are they that we should trust them
when they prick their fingers,
drip their blood onto snow, then die                                                                                     after telling us they'll be there for ever.


Fairy Tales is one of the unsettling poems featured in Jennifer Copley's disturbingly compelling collection, Beans in Snow. Reminiscent of Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber, Copley takes our desire for happy endings and twists it into something far more sinister. Reverting back to the classic - and more frightening - tales of Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm, Copley reminds us that childhood innocence is nothing but an illusion.

There is something quite mesmorising about Copley's poetry, and readers are certain to find pleasure in the abundant references to the childhood stories we all know and love - even if they are almost unrecognisable...

Beans in Snow is published by Smokestack Books and available to purchase on our website here.

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