Grandfather, why are there no tales of you?
Of Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers
Even of your wife,
There are plenty.
I know you’ve seen the fairies, too.
I can tell when I see that sparkle in your eye as you talk to your friend,
The one with the candy-gas-station, as we called it,
Who trusts me to count out a dollar worth of candy.
You told me tales of falling skies, of girls with roses,
Of two little sisters- one red haired, one brown.
Those Irish eyes always smiled, handsomer than a prince’s toothy grin.
Walks to that candy stand were like entering the treasury,
choosing only some treasure to take on the journey in our small sacks.
But the store has been emptied,
no more tales to be heard,
no more your words with new meanings (like beerd, not bird).
You made us laugh, a true bard, indeed,
but no tales to be told of you—
(c) 2000, Twisting the Glass, by Kerrie Colantonio (McNay)
One more for today… I wrote this poem days before the release of Ever After, and had no idea how close I was to the last line of the film. The first of a series of three I’ve written so far, this originally untitled poem speaks to me lately, as I live vicariously through the art of others, calling it “seeking inspiration”, instead of making my own. A bit about the series:
S.I.F.T. Series (Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale) These poems were actually written in pieces, months apart. The first I wrote days before the premiere of Ever After- I freaked out when I heard the end of the movie, as it was similar to the end of “Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale” and I was afraid people would think I stole it. I’ve even kept the email I sent to my then boyfriend (now husband) in for the date-stamp! The second one I wrote summer 2000, frustrated with computers and their place in my life. I think I actually drew a picture first, then wrote the poem. The last one I wrote in February 2001, at work, just after reading one of the essays in Kate Bernheimer’s book * Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales,* the one on Fitcher’s Bird and Bluebeard, then I realized the sifting is in Cinderella too, and then it’s the initials of my poem series. Weird!
All of them are about my life- the first and last have heavily to do with my work life at the time I wrote them and the dissatisfaction I had with it. I grew up with a heavy interest in fairy tales, to the point I tried to live them. If I had to do chores, I was Cinderella. If I needed to get to sleep, I became Sleeping Beauty. If I felt imprisoned, Rapunzel was my company. In college, I was called Cinderella because I would wear a kerchief on my head and, after I finished washing the floor in my quad, ask my dorm mates if they wanted theirs washed. I was that into it. As I’ve become more interested in adaptations, read the more PC versions, the adult versions, etc., I’ve been trying to find my own identity outside the fairy tales, but cannot associate or write without them. I find writing about real life difficult, or less satisfactory, unless there’s a bit of them there.
I’ve had a lot of “writer’s block” lately (not for lack of ideas- I have too many to complete in my lifetime!), so I thought I would share with you a few of my poems about writing. They will be included in Cracking the Nut, a collection of poems inspired by ballet stories and dance in general, as well as a revised edition of my first self-published chapbook, Twisting the Glass. May these hands of silver move across the page again soon.
Rustling what remains of their skirts, veils,
Juniper and pinion/sycamore show me how
to finish my dance.
Raising my arms, the wind molds me
as it does the trees,
You are dancing for us, not them.
Follow us, this way.
If you travel down this path,
we’ll show you how you appear to others,
what you really are,
Come back tomorrow, once you’ve passed
through (the mirror of) Tonight,
shimmering twilight lifting the veil
for you to pass,
a little of its magic coming to rest upon
You can never return home,
but you will find it,
on the other side.
I wrote this after my trip to Prescott, Arizona in March 2002. I had been asked by Kelly Miller-Lopez of the musical group Woodland to dance at the first Faerieworlds Festival. I don’t know if there is any archive footage of the performance, but I will always remember every detail in my heart. I can see Thumb Butte where I finished my choreography the day of the performance. I can hear the laughter of the children of all ages. I can feel the smooth stage under my bare feet. I can taste the salt as I perspired in the heat of the day & stage lights at night, trying hard to convey Grace. I smell the damp earth when I returned to Thumb Butte, to give thanks for the Dance. Another journey, another time, all part of the path.
Come, sit beside the fire with me- I’d like to tell you a tale…
Once, not so long ago- yet many ages ago- another tale was begun…
“Close your eyes. Open the door. Look around you. See on that desk, a basket. Inside, some branches, a doll, a shoe, a jar. That basket, as a child I took it to my grandmother on a visit. Those branches- one came from a thicket around my home, the other, from a garden. That shoe I once wore to a dance. That doll’s head is made from an apple I once took a bite from- just one. Look around you. Everything here holds a story, my story. See all of those journals, each one contains many stories, not just one. Life is full of stories, a series, yet is one story as well, one that does not end. And that jar I spoke of, it contains tears. My mothers tears as she longed for a child, my tears as I longed for a love, as I waited for a prince or a knight to come to me. When I stopped waiting, so did the tears, and I found the prince myself.”
A beginning…an ending…a middle…all one story…one story that continues today, here, now…