We spat at him, scratched at his arms,
bruised his lump knees. A fitting welcome
for the muddy pup we didn’t want. Kept
him tied to the back door in the evening light,
slapped away his upturned hand. Shuddered. Bones
rattling, hair twisted round thin fingers. Inside
his family wanted for nothing.
The first night he heard them whispering,
Ayelo, ayelo come
to us over the land and we’ll
drink pain from your eyes, stitch over your frown, stitch,
We didn’t hear; too busy stuffing our faces,
he feared our shouting.
“Go fetch the boy, go fetch the boy!”
Ankles tied with twine,
he dragged his body past the river, sirens
‘Ayelo, ayelo return to your home!’
Past the bridge with its rotten core,
‘Ayelo, ayelo, return
to your home.’
Their hands reached out to touch his frail little body,
curdling words sweet to his ears, ayelo,
ayelo, our little
troll boy. At last.
They sugared his mouth,
cradled his wounds.
In the stiff morning light all we found
was a rope tied to the bridge, clattering panic,
dirt in their hair, his three sisters
all on bended knee.
‘We wish we had cared but they took
him away, away, away before we could see.’
Now my feral brother the tables have turned,
I am the one they cast outside, the one
they talk to in tongues.
I beg you please keep me safe, ayelo, ayelo,
don’t let them come,
don’t let them come.
Helen Ogden is a 28-year-old writer from Harrogate, England. She has previously been published in Iota poetry journal, Little Blue World, Gold Dust Magazine, Goblin Fruit and will appear in the forthcoming fairytale anthology ‘In The Telling” from Cinnamon Press (May 2009). She is still writing her first novel, “Of Scarlet” and studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.
Image: Illustration from Bland Tomtar Och Troll, Johm Bauer. 1944