A sneeze is how a poltergeist gets outside of you.
At night a different stinky elf sleeps inside each shoe.
Every creaking rafter supports a different ghost,
and it’s little gremlins who make you burn the toast.
Each night those tricky fairies put snarls in your hair,
while pixies in your sock drawer unsort every pair.
Midnight curtain billows are caused by banshee whistles.
Vampires use your toothbrush and put cooties in its bristles.
Truths all come in singles. It’s lies that come in pairs.
That’s a zombie, not a teenager, sneaking up the stairs.
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.
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,
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.
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,