This poem first appeared in New Writing Scotland 29
We came before the Celts, of course.
We walked with the wise men of Greece
and splashed inside the baths of Rome.
We played hide-and-seek in the pyramids
and danced in the Mesopotamian dust.
We were there in Medieval dreams,
when the Greyhound Saint
returned the babes we stole,
when the Wife of Bath spoke our name
with a wink and a saucy, gap-toothed smile.
Our names cropped up in witch trials,
sealed up the fate of too many girls.
We were not seen as tiny then,
not wee, nor twee,
but dangerous as the Devil.
Then Shakespeare gave us proud Titania
and jealous Oberon, with Puck
the playful mischief-maker tangling up
what should run smooth and straight.
Enter the dazzling footlight fairies
of Victorian music halls,
the battery-powered lights sparkling
in their hair.
And then there was poor Conan Doyle,
who was right to believe in us
(though was a fool to think
those photographs were real).
Yeats made use of us
when he got lost in the Twilight,
but if that was a rebirth
then the baby was weak
and sick as a changeling.
In the trenches, too many lost boys
grew up so fast that we became invisible.
Our numbers died out like stars vanishing.
Then came Walt Disney, whose Tinkerbell
had the curves of Marilyn Monroe,
with a cute temper and sweet little furniture
that she kicked with her boudoir-style slippers.
After that we were done for.
Now, when someone says our name,
it’s little girls with glitter wings,
it’s their sticky trick-or-treating hands
that pull us down from trees and stars
and seal us up in plastic.