Stepmothers in Fairy Tales
They are dangerously sexy and always married to a king, generic wealthy man or stonecutter, living out their tumultuous lives in the first wife's home, altered first of course; scarlet-draped boudoirs, gothic windows opening on to moors where deformed trees loom. They harm stepchildren in enchanted forests by incising their subcutaneous fat with blue light turning them into swans, proffering poisonous fruit or exposing them to the vagaries of witches. They have a thing for mirrors, lakes and strange headgear. Age toughens them; keratin scales within their nails and hair. When they die, it is by bitter herbs, their spirit thrashing like a hammerhead shark, never in history going down without a fight. *originally published in Fiona's first collection of poetry, Alchemy (Turas Press, Dublin, 2020) Altered State Oh Father, this forest is a labyrinth I have caught sight of the flying saints you sent to rescue me if that is what you need you to hear. I feel no compulsion to compete with this ecosystem. I have never understood the concept of ancient self. Let me tread through the seedlings of tender ambition. Seal off the charred remains of childhood in syncopation with the seasons. Your white emulsion appears as Polaris in the vast Vantablack. All in good time I will follow it home. The Visitors An unexpected spectacle- all those luminescent multitudes floating through the forest carapace-covered creatures, other tiny fragments pulsating between branches soft and unfettered as moon jellyfish they form fleeting rings around bats congregate in all the in-between spaces my susceptible heart surges to their baroque rhythm a caravan of light wiping shadows away they will not pass this way again. Bio: Fiona’s first collection of poetry, Alchemy (Turas Press, Dublin), won the Poetry Book Awards (2021) Silver Medal and was shortlisted for the Rubery Prize. Her flash fiction, Sea Change, won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Awards (2020). Her poetry and short fiction has been published internationally in publications such as Fevers of the Mind, Lighthouse, Skylight47, Utopia, Abyss & Apex, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She lives near Oxford, in the UK, with her family.