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  • The Fairy Tale Magazine

Throwback Thursday: A Half Century of Beauty by Melissa Yuan-Innes


Editor's Note: "Children of the heart" can come in many forms, and women are not the only ones who have the knowledge of charms and remedies. Please enjoy today's Throwback Thursday poem of delicate beauty and timeless love by Melissa Yuan-Innes.




For their fiftieth anniversay,

He gave her a beast.


No one would ever call it that, of course

With its radiant white coat,

Infinitely gentle brown eyes

And most of all,

The legend of its power

And beauty.


It raised its head

To stare at her on the castle balcony.

No bridle covered its lovely head.

No groom held a pair of reins in his hand.

Instead, the animal's cloven hooves

Stood freely on the cobblestones.


She licked her lips

And turned to her husband.

"My lord, I am nearly speechless.

You know I am no maiden."

He kissed her cheek and replied, smiling,

"My love, have no fear."


He’d retained a way with animals

And an instinct for charms and remedies that

She’d never encountered in purely human folk,

So she descended the stone staircase

Circling the cold newel stairs,

And the animal did approach her

As if sensing the loneliness in her heart

Matched by its own.


She cradled its head,

Avoiding the horn

Pointing toward her face.

She dared not prick her finger

As in another immortal tale.

Instead, she stroked the soft mane

And wondered why, in this half-century

Of consecrated wedding vows,

legendary love,

and near-fairy tale bliss,

She and her husband

Had never created

A single life in her womb.


The villagers remained too afraid

or superstitious

To pass on their own babes

No matter how ill or frail.

So all her bairns

Wore feathers or fur or scales.


Today, she caressed the unicorn.

Her tears dripped into its shining coat

But she called up to her husband,

"My lord, she is beautiful,”

And kissed her newest beast.




Melissa Yuan-Innes is a doctor who loves fairy tales. As Melissa Yi, she writes werewolf thrillers (Wolf Ice), teenagers who save the world by talking to animals (High School Hit List), and the critically-acclaimed Hope Sze medical mysteries. Find Melissa Yi Yuan-Innes on Facebook, @dr_sassy on Twitter, and WWW.MELISSAYUANINNES.COM.

Art: "Woman with Unicorn" by Giorgione, 1510

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