Sunday, 19 March 2017

Tar girl




Do you remember the fairytale girl who found a way
to another land through an enchanted well,
arriving there behind our heroine and without grace,
without the looks, the charm, the way with words;
and, doing so, was covered in tar and feathers.

She stood, her hopes pooling about her feet, settling between her toes,
tar shoes clicked her to the tar ground. The feathers tickled, then set.
The tar ran long enough to reach every blessed crevice, every fold in her and
her dress, her hair, her necklace kept for special occasions.

She set in place, long, tear-filled hours of trying ran by,
her darkened eyes crowded with her own hair, tar and feathers.
At home her sister sang
(she could always sing, all birds and summer and golden times)
and set the table, dusted the shining clock, watched gentled flowers through the glass
and wondered at the light soaking into the tapestry.

Tar girl moved slowly at last, feet slipping on cobbles, sticking every step, crying at herself,
at the pain in her ankles from dragging up one foot, then the other, each time fighting the tar
and the scorched, driven pain held at every tender spot on her body.

The long way home and her own front door,
greeted mid-song
by the golden child,
tar-free,
and smiling
the pitied welcome
for strange, lost souls.
Slouching in our anti-hero makes her way across the old stone floor
to the water pump at the kitchen door: drenched, tearless and set.

Later, cutting herself out of her clothes, she studies her nakedness,
the light and dark of tar and tar-free, the small, childlike angle
of her shaven head and the pattern
left where the necklace faithfully stuck.

Light falls as the day dims outside the window.
In the soft darkness she watches the way her raw, ripped skin glows,
where the still-tarred makes her disappear against the room.
Lying back she traces the sore threads around her neck and waits for morning.


In the other room her sister sings softly in her bed. Tar girl turns to listen.


© Amanda J Harrington 2016


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