Hailey Spencer πŸ”ˆ

The Maiden in the Tower

(ATU 310)

1.A man promises his unborn daughter to a witch.

He can see the tower as it is erected. It ought to take a hundred men a year, but when the witch touches the stones they rise up to the heavens.

2.In her prison, she lets down her hair for the witch and a prince to climb.

Sometimes when the witch arrives, she tries to say no. Later, when another begins his ascent, she finally half-desires the tug against her scalp. As he grows higher, strands of hair begin to pull painfully part at the follicle.

She saves them in a box beneath her pillow.

3.The witch, learning the truth, blinds the prince and exiles the girl.

A desert in the midst of the woods, empty of anything to pray to except for the sky. The trees close in on all four sides. They look like home and feel like a pair of arms holding her tightly. It’s hard to say whether this is an embrace or a restraint.

Her hair has been chopped unevenly, so she finishes the work, removing each strand from the root until her scalp is bare.

4.The couple is reunited. The maiden’s tears restore the prince’s sight.

In the mornings, she wakes up with a head that is far too easy to lift. It would be wrong to say she misses the weight, so she doesn’t.

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About the Author

Hailey Spencer has an obsession for fairy tales and a tattoo of Baba Yaga’s house on her calf. Her poetry has been published online and in print. She appeared in Episode 24 of the Mytholadies podcast to discuss Tale-Type 510A, commonly referred to as Cinderella. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Elizabeth.