Morning during Migration Season

she awakens to the
sharp ammonia stench of magic
an immediate reminder
that it’s migration season

still clad in pajamas
she clutches an iron blade
checks every windowsill
panes crusted with wards of salt
the other side of the glass
mounded with dead fairies

miniature faces frozen
in feral grimaces
toothpick-sized swords in hand
their wings already blackened
by the first pink beams of sun

fairy stragglers too slow to escape the dawn
are fizzling motes falling to the lawn
and will add crunchy sound effects
when the woman mows on Saturday

coffee burbles
toast sizzles
the morning news perkily states

“only three more nights of curfew!
maybe we can make this our third
consecutive year without anyone
being dragged to Fairy Land.
Stay indoors all night, folks,
or you’ll be the special guest
of the Queen’s feast
roasted with an apple in your mouth!
Next up, here’s Bob with the weather—
that rain’s coming in now, right?”

she sips her coffee
grimaces at the thought
of the drifts of fairy corpses
that must clutter her door sill

a few bodies are bound
to be stuck to her car windshield wipers, too
those grotesque little things
spread-eagled
arms waving with every arc
through a smear of rain
and pollen-thick magic

“three more nights,” she mutters
only a week of inconvenience every year
she can deal
her job is good
the mortgage paid

she shoves her feet into
her heaviest boots
soles so thick they almost
prevent her from feeling
the crackle of bones underfoot


—Beth Cato