What Walt Disney Did For Us


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.

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