Tangle Deep

‘You have a twig,’ he says
fingers already picking
at the knots and brambles
thorned in her hair.
‘There’s a leaf caught,’
powdery fragile in the blonde,
whispers of skeleton,
rib rack of split ends.
‘Let me get that for you,’
sharp syllables, blunt nails,
loose strands and dandelion sap
rooted out from the scalp.
‘Isn’t that better now,’
no question, answer indisputable,
pretty plastic petals painted white
for the mirror to show.

Artwork by the fantastic Catrin Welz-Stein

I’m in love with the piece of art above, so much so that I’m planning on buying a print of it after payday. Though I’m a little torn between this one and her piece ‘Sisters’. I’ll have to pick one and maybe allow myself a second at Christmas.


    1. It just reminded me of the stories involving wild, amazing women who were frowned on as improper because they got dirt under their nails. There’s such a beauty in nature, and often those who embrace it are seen as strange or off because it doesn’t match with a rigid structure of society.


  1. Paternalism? Gaslighting? Either would apply here but the message is clear, and the sickly plastic painted white residue left behind can be hard to dispose of.


  2. I would love a copy of this print too, Carol! I love the title, which reminds me of Sleeping Beauty and the brambles, as does the poem. But I am unsettled by the undertones. In the first few lines, he seems caring, but the ‘whispers of skeleton’ and ‘rib rack of split ends’ seem ominous, and when they turn into ‘sharp syllables, blunt nails’ I worry for her. This could be what happened to Sleeping Beauty after she married the prince.


    1. The origins of fairy tales after often so much darker than you’d assume. I remember being told once that if you look back at older versions and language at the time, the ‘slipper’ in Cinderella referenced an element of female anatomy, and it was the Prince’s ‘foot’ that did all the trying on. Suddenly the whole story is significantly less romantic.


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