No Fairy Tale
No Fairy Tale (1)
we are not extinct or hidden or lost we are (our)selves in its purest form. an evaporated perforation of was & will.
once upon a time there was no time. and all the little girls twirled in ballerina costumes and combat boots. and no one cared if they did. and no one cared that they didn't stare in mirrors and cry. and the little girls held hands. and no one cared. because everyone held hands. and each hand held an eye. and all the eyes saw what was truly there. and no one cared that they did. and were. unrefined. and some girls twirled in stilettos and some girls twirled barefoot and polish free. and all girls never heard of the word safety. hazards were a kind of flower and rape was just a bitter drink no one ever had to taste. and the little girls were. happy. and no one cared that they didn't understand the language of unhappiness. and no one was ever lost. or floating or out there. and rejection was a high tech jump rope which made room for ten. and everyone jumped. in. and all the little girls twirled. and danced. and sang. and were quiet. too.
No Fairy Tale (2)
and we promised ourselves no more slaughtered daughters. no more small pelvic bones lining the sea.
once upon a time a girl met herself at the river when she nearly drowned. her body floating like a lily pad. her heart gurgling for air. when she felt herself begin to slip. she, herself rose from the river to save her. self. and this is the tale we tell our daughters. the ones we never push through our heavens. the ones we meet along the way in classrooms, coffee shops or crisis hotlines. this is what we mean when we say love. yourself. and when i felt myself at the river drowning. my body floating like a lily pad, my heart gurgling for air, myself, she too. was drowning. and when we both thought we were
sinking. to the bottom of our lifetime many little girls drew us. back to finish upon the earth. and this is what i will tell my daughters. the ones i won’t push out through my heavens. the ones i won’t meet in classrooms, coffee shops or crisis hotlines. i will tell this tale to the daughters whose bodies are bent. open. whose exhales are wedged between fetch & swell.
No Fairy Tale (3)
sometimes a heart is a tenant and sometimes a heart is a house. neither knowing which is which until the house or tenant vanishes.
once upon a time a girl faded away from herself. the black, red & white of her. friable. traveled far enough to meet the woman she herself was. to be. come. when she extended her heart to herself—the woman fortified the heart with sage, marrow & majorelle blue. the woman fortified the heart with yarn, lotus& light. the woman fortified the heart with diri kole a pwa, courage & cilantro. the woman fortified the heart with gauze, aloe vera & anise. the woman nested the heart in a box. the woman nested the box in a magic box. the magic box pulsed & the girl. also the woman absorbed inside her. self.
No Fairy Tale (4)
if you cannot forget how a story goes, rewrite it from the memory of your legs. from the memory of your womb. from the memory of your amnesia. if you cannot forget how a story does not go, rewrite it from the forgetting. from the forgetting in you r legs. from the forgetting in your womb. from the forgetting in your amnesia.
once upon a time a girl misplaced her wings. & when she tried to zoom she sank. & when she tried to stop. herself. from sinking low down into the thing she was descending into she quickly used her legs. to fly. each leg a library catalog holding books & books. the stories of her lives. each toe a chapter. & when she reached what she thought was a thud. the thud became a thing. the thing became a color. the color pickled lilac. there in the pickled lilac her wings lay. preserved. the shape of them still in their form: two brown hands. palms up. elbows shinning. each finger a chapter.
No Fairy Tale (5)
instructions for full moon: 1. make a list of your intentions. 2. yell them. 3. make a list of your fears. 4. burn them. 5. tell the universe what you want. 6. scream it to the moon. 7. listen. 8. little girl will answer. 9. if this is all new little girl will understand. her voice often muffled by the sounds of the world.
once upon a time a girl was eaten by the world. the world had no idea the girl was a girl. rather, the world mistook her for the moon which appeared to fall directly into his lap. the world knowing that there is no crime whatsoever in eating pieces of the moon felt full. the world knowing. that there is no crime whatsoever in tearing apart pieces of the moon felt at peace. the world. knowing that there is no crime whatsoever in digesting the moon. felt healthy. world felt like it absorbed. a blameless thing. a magenta & fierce thing. world felt honored—the moon resting on its tongue. the moons heart multiplying over each tooth. the braveries like blueberries hanging from the roof of the world’s mouth. the world unexpectedly felt nostalgic. as if. the beginning was now. as if. the moon became the world. became the sun. be. came inside & made it whole. the moon, who was really a girl was not sweaty palms or toe tapping—the uproar. the contraction. of this. of that. the heaving & sweeping. inside. did not shake her. the moon, who was really a girl decided she would stay. in the world. & the girl was content. & the girl found a place in the world to practice balance. to coax cycles. to be full & new.
No Fairy Tale (6)
every wayward lint ridden black sock, every dangling hymen, every front row baby tooth, every word, every dollar, every thought, every garbage pail kid, every button, every heart, ever mute voice, every baby in the bathwater, every soul, every—every is here.
once upon a time a girl lost a map. her way labeled will-nilly. her path fettered with lacerations & unfamiliar punctuation marks. when the girl understood she had no recollection of the old way—the way of the map, the way of the map which she thought she lost.. she remembered the map was in her handwriting. she remembered the map had a key she created. she remembered the map she created with the key she created was not the way. but. a. way. when the girl allowed herself to be a coagulated ellipses she found that she was now. on her way. which was not the way she mapped. out. but a new way.
No Fairy Tale (7)
we know that all dreams come true. we know that some truths are conceived through dreams. we know that a nightmare always searches for a dream & this is true.
once upon a time a girl who woke up in a sleep. her heart shut up while her eyes sat with a nightmare. the girl who woke up in a sleep realized she wasn’t seeing all the things she needed to see. not seeing all the things she needed to see she realized her eyes, which were attached to her hair, how they both were thick & dark & halfway witnessing, were in an awake sleep which took her to a metropolis of other awake sleeping girls. the girls who were awake & also sleeping were not sewn inside their bodies: brackish wings & purple skin fluttering with each inhale & exhale. the girls who were in an awake sleep—determined each one had sat with nightmare & she, herself, the nightmare was also sleeping awake. the girl also realized her heart was covered in pillows. the insides of the pillows smelling of sage & turquoise. the turquoise carrying a purse of silver & love. the nightmare understanding she couldn’t reign decided to leave. the leave holding all the contemporary pain. the contemporary pain pushing the past. the past evaporating like a dream upon waking.
No Fairy Tale (8)
we dwell in a place of neither land nor sea but land & sea.
once upon a time a girl washed herself ashore. her beach a grainy space of small green needles partially threaded & the girl who washed herself ashore on the grainy space of small green needles partially threaded her hair in the shape of a womb. & the womb, partially threaded became unraveled. & the girl unraveled. & the space of partially threaded needles transformed into a space of tangled knots. & the small knots, from the girl who washed ashore tripled. & the girl who washed herself ashore felt her feet become tectonic plates & her feet which became tetratomic plates shifted & the girl realized she was both the beach & the shore. & the girl who washed herself ashore epiphanied. the girl who washed herself ashore a-ha’d. the girl who washed herself ashore form herself which was not ashore realized she could summon a part of herself. & she did.
Anastacia Tolbert is a Northwest transplant with roots in the West Indies. Since 2008, she has invested her time and energy as a teacher and performer. Her writing crosses genres and defies boundaries-- moving with ease from poetry to fiction-- from memoir to screenplays. Tolbert is a Cave Canem Fellow and Hedgebrook alum. This year her work appeared in the Jack Straw Writers anthology and Dismantle, an anthology of VONA writers. Although rarely seen without her trademark smile, Tolbert's writing plays on the delicate boundary between danger and discomfort-- she explores feminism through motherhood, race, trauma, and grief. Her article, WARTORN, about her experiences as the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, won her the San Diego Journalism Press club award. Recently, Tolbert has been expanding her creative repertoire into the field of visual art, and has exhibited her painting and photography surrounding the body as a polarized place of both the private and political. She lives in Seattle with her two teenaged sons and runs the Performance Studies Department at the Seattle Girl's School. Find out more about her work online at www.anastaciatolbert.com.