Have you ever been haunted by an image left untreated in a tale? The one you know is lurking on the blank page after?
I think of those brothers—by day swans, by night, men. And their sister, driven to save them.
The stinging nettle thrives in a dark and treacherous realm. It can cure if crushed, barefooted, if the blistering yarn is woven with tender hands…silently, silently.
I imagine her fashioning those garments, stoically, unable to cry out, to her peril.
She is rescued in the end, fated for a royal marriage; but her work is left unfinished.
A necessity? Yes. The tale demands it.
But can she be happy?
To have sacrificed, suffered, been silent, faced death, yet know one wing remains at his side.
It’s left unsaid, of course; we’re meant to rejoice.
Yet I can see that remnant of his feathered self assert its power, thirst for flight, his human hand try in vain to wrest its motion, calm its torment, heal the rift between past and future, man and beast.
And I think she must regret, in some small measure, her failure. For no plant, no sting, no sacrifice will free him of this curse. Nothing will still the wild angel left behind….
(Read “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen)