There may have been a balm of Gilead, but all my perseverance cannot restore it to a world where it has gone on clearance. I try to gather peace of mind, but still I cannot sleep. I have too many troubles given over to my keep. I need to take a gap year away from every worry. Perhaps there is still time for it if I really hurry.
My niece gave me some fairy dust and maybe it will do.
I’ll sprinkle it in place of that legendary goo.
Concerning soothing miracles of body or of mind,
I’ll accept proffered magic of assorted types or kind.
I’ll resort to anything, be it dust or balm,
accepting any magic that simply restores calm.
image from Austin Ban on Unsplash, used with permission
As a point of interest, in case you think the “balm of Gilead” is just a Biblical allusion, go HEREto see a video on an old native American balm of Gilead that makes use of the buds of a common American tree. For the fairy dust? Go see your niece.
When we go to bed, they sneak in and loll about on the chair cushions, combing their coarse straight hair, leaving traces we’ll brush off with the lint brush, blaming the cat.
They mine the refrigerator, looking for wine spills or crumbs of cheese.
The more intrepid jump on the rubber pillow of the sink squirter, starting a slow drip they can drink from like a water fall,
then make the long trek into the cave of my computer room, their eyes on the precarious towers of books. They give each other a hands-up onto the power key of my computer, then all jump in sync to turn it on.
The files they fill they bury deep, but sometimes I find them by accident when I discover a folder I don’t recognize, open it up and read words I don’t remember writing.
This morning when I wake up I find piled on the dining room table under the large paper globe light dozens of tiny wings, each veined uniquely, like a fingerprint– pale brown with a darker cuticle along the upper edge.
Shaped like an oblanceolate leaf, veined like a feather, they have been attached by junctures so fragile that fairies could have chewed them off, perhaps, twisted them until they snapped, or pulled them off like socks, shedding their wings like garments. I wonder why a fairy would shed its wings, then slip into imagination–which is the part of our minds through which fairies speak to us.
They tell me they have been building a house within our house for so long that it is now finished, and so they plan to stay, determined to be warm forever. Our house will be the old fairies home where they will come when they have started crashing into other fairies, or careening the wrong way down a one-way air path.
Stripped of their wings, they are like retired aviators, snugged into some warm corner of our house away from the cat and from marauding mice, telling stories of glorious flights of wing and fancy– that time caught in the spider web– the other caught in the updraft– chills and thrills from an earlier life.
How lucky that I have found these clues before they could be swept aside, blown by the smallest breeze of some passing human onto the floor and then obliterated. These wings are so light, so fragile that I imagine fairy bodies to be crushable as grasshoppers– their bones, like ladybug shells, more fragile than mice.
But these are not the perfect Barbie Doll fairies of the movies or books, for they have told me so– writing their self-portraits on my screen exactly thus: “More like trolls or gnomes, we have crags and crevices, warts with sticky hairs growing from them. Fairies fart and belch and scratch our bottoms. We steal sugar water from the hummingbird tube and seed from the bird feeder. In the fall, we mine apples like mother lodes, wrapping tiny chunks of them in leaves, which we leave in the footpath so passing humans can press out the apple juice with the soles of their shoes.”
More industrious than the fairies of books, real fairies are architects, doctors, poets and cooks. Some are storytellers. Some weave clothes. But there are no firemen or policemen and only a few judges, for they never set fires or break their own rules. Caught up in human tragedies, fairy folk depend on human bureaucracy to solve the problems or compound them. Rules and laws are not fairy things, although retribution against the human world has been known to occur.”
Fairies with no wings supervise hummingbird disputes. (This is why they have a few judges.) They herd fleas away from squirrel backs onto the backs of mean cats, tease raccoons, kick leaves from roofs into down spouts to plug them up and make fairy swimming pools. They bungee jump from spider webs, bronco bust yellow jackets, shake down pollen from the limbs of redwood trees, ride around on the backs of a different animal every night.
Retired fairies climb the couch as though it were the Matterhorn with a fishhook for a pick. They go sliding on the dust of top shelves, spelunk down drains, wander through house plants like jungles. They remove tiny portions of cloth from our clothes to sew clothes for themselves, then let moths take the blame.
They eat the last piece of candy in the dish, then raid the refrigerator for additional provisions, jump on the remote to start the television, and watch late night TV with the sound turned down. In the early mornings before we rise, they turn it off–after reprogramming the TV to record their favorites instead of ours.
We see fairies every day, But they know well the art of camouflage, persuading us that we saw something else– a hummingbird, a mouse. What can be seen can be killed or captured. That which is hidden, we let alone. That is why fairies stay in shadows. All small fluttering, scurrying things form a fraternity. The rules between them firmly established– rules on what they will let be seen and what will be keep secret.
So when your cat jumps for no reason,
or stares at the spot where you see nothing,
sending chills down your back,
you must now realize that it is fairies.
And when you call for your children to do the dishes or their homework And they don’t answer, blame the fairies who at night first whisper tomorrow’s mischief in kids’ ears, then stuff in ear wax to protect them from the noise of the world.
And when you lose your glasses or your keys, it is the work of fairies who want to encourage you to see from a finer eye, to travel in your mind, and so hide objects that distract you, and spread dust over things like books and old art supplies that you should pay attention to.
When you see a fast movement out of the corner of your eye and see the leaf that falls, it is a fairy who has detached it to distract your attention from what you really saw–him. When you hear a noise and run to the next room to find a book just fallen from the shelf, look on the shelf, quickly, for the fairy foot disappearing behind the stack.
There is more in this world than what we see– forces guarding us and guiding us, forces keeping the balance. And if you think that they are powerless because they’re small, if you think because they can’t be seen they don’t exist, think of the atom, then reconsider fairies.
Her gold tiara, finely pearled,
came undone as she danced and whirled
and across the room was often hurled
as the hair that held it came unfurled.
Then her attendant tightly furled
her fairy hair as they fussed and girled.
For the rest of the night, she bowed and twirled,
for now that her hair was tightly curled,
all was right in the fairy world.
The Prompt: Easy Fix—Write a post about any topic you wish, but make sure it ends with “And all was right in the world.”