ingredients for a fairytale

Rosamund Taylor
Content Warnings
"In the story..."
Dec 28, 2020 9:50 PM

In the story you are a princess hidden in a scullery. 

You are born deaf, you click your throat, 

learn the language of cold water, 

of torn ears, burnt hands, 

rabbits and mute swans.

The story needs two villains,

and you fall in love with both—

the rough-shod shambling angel, 

the golden-haired monster

with damselfly wings.

They find you hanging linen—

your brown hands, the yellowed sheets, 

your silence.

It could be called an abduction, 

but you open yourself to the angel's red fingers,  

to the breath of the monster

on the backs of your knees.

They guide you by tugging your nipples; 

your lips swell. You sleep through mornings

held in four arms.

In the story

you must learn you may not love like this. 

You must escape through a cave—

be blind, too, in the dark; find yourself

by touch, human and alive; come at last

to a cold morning and a peat river, 

smelling moss deep-rooted in green loam.

Forget the story. 

You stay until they swallow you, 

the angel and the monster.

You see what they are—they stole children

picking speedwell in a clearing; 

they took a widow's hands and a minstrel's eyes. 

And you—they take you over and over,

and, princess, you know, and you let them.


In 2017, ROSAMUND TAYLOR won the inaugural Mairtín Crawford award and was nominated for a Forward Prize. Most recently, her work has appeared in Agenda, Orbis, BansheeCrannóg and Magma. She has been twice short-listed for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, won joint second-place for the Patrick Kavanagh Award 2015, and is currently working on her first poetry collection. You can read more of her work on TheLearnedPig.Org ( and (