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Clare Pollard

I always felt you were too good for me;

You slayed my nightmare dragons lightly.

When you did not turn to gaze on me,

I told myself you were Orpheus showing self-restraint,

Yet still it hurt, for I wanted you to want me stupidly.

I would gladly have fallen into Hell

For a hungry glance off you.


But I was nothing, easily injured and unworthy,

So I created my own mythology, to be your equal.

Fairy-tales grew in dark forests on my tongue,

And you listened enchanted

As I encrusted myself with rubies and bravery.

It was easy, I am good at telling stories...


I told you I could call up storms of butterflies and violets.

I told you twelve princes were pursuing me,

and performing dangerous tasks to win my hand.

I told you I rose from death seven times and, laughing,

flicked the gold flames of my hair into the faces of my killers.

I told you I loved you enough to bear crows pecking my eyes,

And enough to stick an asp in my bra.


I slayed your love easily; a clumsy, mortal accident.

You cowered at my majesty,

The thought of those ragged bodies lapping over my rocks.

Ironic, when my magic is clearly not as potent as yours.

My stories convinced you like the words of a prophet.


You say you are not perfect like I think you are.

You say I am angel-pure and your hands would tear my wings.

You say you do not deserve oceans of white roses.

You say you do not deserve rooms full of sunbeams -

They blind you, as thorns do - I am too much brightness.

And besides, if you gave me the kiss, the kiss of true love,

It would not awaken me, and no-one would change shape.

You would be an anti-climax.

You would disappoint.


It is my own fault, I was my own Genesis.

Now I must pay a price greater than to always hold the sky up.

I must watch you retreat from me, dropping no crumb trail;

Watch you leave me without thread in this labyrinth I made.

I tell you that I lied, but you no longer believe me.

I will always be a giddy goddess to you;

A mermaid longing for legs that will only bring varicose veins,

When she should be plucking pearls out of the sea-bed.


I shout: “No! I’m only a stupid, stupid girl.

I love you for your flaws, they are what make you perfect.”


You shake your head.

You tell me that in every myth there is a grain of truth.


From Magma No 9 (Spring 1997)