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‘Fairy Tales and Stepmonsters’

I wish I’d held your hand more often.
it would have been easy.
I wish I’d worried less

and made a nest of my fingers
for it to curl inside,
it used to slip into mine anyway.

Do you remember the models we made
out of cardboard and paper?
Rockets and market stalls

and castles from toilet rolls,
me holding things together
while the glue dried.

Did you ever look in a mirror
and long for three wishes?
However hard I tried I could only see

you through a window, hear your voice
on the other side of a door,
touch your arm through your sleeve.

Ilse Pedler is a poet and Poetry School student.

‘I’ve been lucky enough to be a stepmother and a mother and enjoyed both immensely but have also been able to appreciate the differences. I loved reading fairy stories to both boys when they were little and one day my stepson said ‘why are the stepmothers all so horrible? They’re not like you, they’re stepmonsters.’ So that’s where the title came from and I’d been wanting to write a poem based around the idea for ages. Doing the Folklore Studio allowed me a way in and I was able to weave fairy tale symbolism throughout the poem. At the end I wanted to bring in those subtle differences in loving a stepchild and the feeling that they’re never quite your ‘own’, almost as though you have them through some enchantment.’


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