Tough women always get bad press.
Cold. Bossy. Bitch. They said
I took him from the arms of his family
when he tagged along after me.
Ill-matched from the start
but I couldn’t resist those young hands
on my skin. And though I’ve always been one for the cold,
a bracing walk, a bitter wind to blow a mood away,
I changed, spent days and nights sweating with him.
The week I went back to work,
I’d come home to find him buried under blankets,
the heating full on, his face as red as chestnuts,
not a scrap of housework done. Windows steamed
from his heat, his breath, his feet.
I slept in my own spare room
when I couldn’t stand his body’s furnace another night
while he spread hot and moist across my cool, white sheets.
The stench in the morning made me gag,
throw the windows open to his moans,
the condensation, the flowering of mould.
So don’t tell me the old seduce the young.
He took me all the way.
The day I found him gone, I wept for joy,
for the cool setting on the shower,
the welcoming cold of the lavatory seat,
and then for fear of being alone. The bleak
expanse of mattress when I woke, a silence
that could decorate the walls.
It’s months and I still miss the things
I grew to hate. Warm hands around my face.
At night, his heat rising against my spine.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The re-visioning of myth is something I began to explore while studying for my Master’s degree in the late 1990s. Giving voice to the women in these ancient stories seemed to help me find my own emerging voice as an apprentice writer and also discover a certain amount of self-belief as a woman.
IMAGE: “The Snow Queen” by Edmund Dulac (1911).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Rees was born and grew up in South Wales, UK. Novelist, poet, life writer, editor, and psycho-geographer, her most recent book is Real Port Talbot (Seren 2013), an upbeat and offbeat historical and journalistic exploration of her hometown. She is joint editor of the long-running journal, contemporary haibun online and blogs weekly on life, food, and writing as “the hungry writer” at www.lynnerees.com.