Damsel & Other Poems by Kirsty Niven

The Heroines Among Us

Kirsty Niven shows us the different sides of a woman. Perception and reality both dancing, but not always to the same beat.


I don’t need rescued;
not every girl is a princess. 

Blood red lips drip,
staining snow white skin
starved to a deathly pallor. 

My Rapunzel hair thins,
strands drifting away
like dandelion seeds; 

the feathers fluttering
in the path, the aftermath,
of a swan that’s taken flight. 

Wholly sick of shadows,
I wield the future as my sword. 

My Grandparents’ House

They live in Dundonald, an ex-council house
on a street that rhymes like a children’s book.
You can just about see the castle from their door,
if you peer through the cracks in the estate. 

The living room is a green museum, holding
an exhibition on their lives, a detailed mosaic.
The photos of us grandchildren showcased,
through every stage of life, diplomas and proms –
well, until I dyed my hair a rebellious red. 

The mahogany cabinet displaying the souvenirs
of every holiday, from mildew ridden tents
to constellation level hotels; the Austrian crystal,
Welsh bells and the miniature Jersey jugs.
Anniversary gifts: plates in silver, pearl and ruby.
The tantalising sweetie cupboard beneath
with its crumbling mint air and rainbow wrappers. 

A clowder of cat figurines on the sideboard,
scented with the pot pourri in the glass bowl.
The vanity box down the side of the couch,
filled with George’s marvellous medicines
and the little sponges that became Barbie podiums. 

I think their bedroom is still my favourite.
I love to sit at her dressing table,
wrapped in its rose perfumed air.
My sticky fingers dip in and out of velvet boxes,
her best earrings held before my unpierced lugs.
Painting on her best lipstick, lines forgotten,
its waxy clown smile lingering for days. 

Her essence still breathes in this place,
her eyes watch on through the pictures on the wall. 


Your words step out of the page,
crawling onto my skin
and leaving inky footprints. 

The images look into my eyes,
burrowing into my brain.
It’s like they never left. 


 Kirsty A. Niven is from Dundee, Scotland. She graduated from the University of Dundee in 2013 with a first class degree in English. Her writing has appeared in a number of anthologies such as A Prince Tribute, Landfall and Heat the Grease: We’re Frying Up Some Poetry. She has also had poetry appear in numerous journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, The Poet’s Republic and Dundee Writes. Kirsty’s work can also be read online on websites such as Cultured Vultures, The Wild Word, Silver Birch Press and several others. 

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