Golden Bird Lays Pretty Eggs

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Lottie perched at table, beheld a patterned pysansky preserved in waxed glory. ”Exquisite egg.”

Nina sipped tea. “Family heirloom.”

“European,” Lottie asked.

“A tale from Ukraine goes with it. A girl found hundreds of golden birds stiff with cold, helped a few, and found homes for the rest. ”

“How kind.” Would that there were more kindness.

“In spring, the villagers who’d fostered them released the birds who Easter next flew to each house. This egg and hundreds of others appeared on doorsteps throughout the village, a thanks from the grateful birds.”

“A beautiful story, more so even than the eggs.”

Stir Things Down

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The dates to celebrate spring are close this year, within a month, and yet some religions seem far apart. They fight each other. They fight among themselves. “They are young,” Eostre said, “or maybe a bit territorial, those men.”

This ancient goddess brought them all together: old and new religions, female and male deities. The witches stirred a brew of love, the opposite of hate. They loaded it into clouds that rained tears on the land that had dried to dust. Cracked seeds opened into bulbs that bloomed lilies, all kinds, fields full. The perfume of peace filled the air.

Wildscape

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There’s a bunny peeking from alyssum and rosemary where a rufous sided towhee, dressed in orange tails with black trim, dined last week. Earlier in the month, a flock of pale looking robins plucked hard blue berries from the ivy on our wooden fence. They ate what was left after cedar waxwings migrated through in February.

A cuckoo wasp, a white-lined hummingbird moth, butterflies, and two kinds of lizards populate a native meadow that grows where our thirsty grass withered away during past droughts. We leave culled weeds to compost and pruned branches to shelter wildlife. The yard has become a preserve.

Foolish Woman Not So Dumb

Baba Yaga, foolish old woman, rattler of chicken bones magicked from soup. Her elder son nurses historic delusions. In the younger one, hope persists. Hers is tough love at best. Battles rage. Forgotten, the soup gets cold.

Baba Yaga makes a cake with pears, no mushrooms. She absorbs the stove into herself, casting a spell on the forest. Her heart, a net to catch the half-cracked madness. The cake, an irresistible odor summoning the children to the table in Baba Yaga’s stilt perched house. As they eat, she turns the house upside down, shaking up what had seemed inevitable.

The Sleepy Shoemaker

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The shoemaker claimed that elves made his wares. It might have been true. Even his wife never saw him working. He gabbed and napped the day away, but all night he cut and stitched. After a television personality interviewed him, business soared.

Success cured him of insomnia. He worked afternoons and into the night, falling asleep before finishing his orders. Still, every shoe was ready in the morning. Puzzled, he kept himself awake drinking coffee and pinching himself when his eyes drooped. Just when he couldn’t keep from nodding, his wife sneaked in.

“It was you,” he said.

“Who else?”

The Intersection of Three Tales

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The bears were shocked when they arrived home. Their cottage was a mess; broken furniture, dirty dishes, spilled porridge. Clearing the table, Mama found the house sitter’s note.

My Dearest Bears,
	
         A most frightful situation has befallen my grandmother. She was nearly eaten by a wolf and I must stay with her as my cousin, Red, has used all compassionate leave. 
	Another cousin, Lorelei, will house sit. She runs with a careless  crowd. I will cover all damages.

Regretfully yours,
G. Locks

Surprising Mama, a spiky haired stranger streaked out the door, into the river and was never seen again.

He’ll Never Be a Real Boy

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Dick Dern opened the nozzle, turning a spray of water on his classic Cadillac. With a vague feeling of déjà vu, he rubbed the hood with a chamois cloth and talked the car smoothly into the garage. The man was persuasive.

He walked inside to his office, where his wife was shredding papers.

“Honey, can’t we throw this old thing out?” Jane Dern pointed to a manly wooden puppet with a pouting mouth and an extraordinarily long nose.

Dick closed the closet. “No way. That dummy is the most successful campaign prop in political history. I’ll need it again soon. ”

Charming Cindy

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The tag on the salesman’s lapel read Bill Charming. The only customer in the shop, Cindy, had a shoe in mind. A sturdy one, suitable for running.

“How can I help you? Don’t tell me.” Bill opened a gold box. “You’re a dancer. I just know it. And I have the perfect slippers for you.”

Before Cindy could say a word, Bill strapped a dazzling heel on her foot. 

“That’s not what I had in mind.”

But as the second slipper caressed her foot, the world changed around her. She and Bill danced. Around a ballroom. Until midnight’s toll chimed.

Happy Birthday

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We sing Happy Birthday,
A gay grid of celebrants, in a non-traditional party,
All five participating squares bathed in screen light.
Quick to smile, slow to mourn this unknown country.

We clap ourselves on the back, no clue where this is going
Or when we might return.
Time's cycles extinguish candles burning bright. Wax drips fluttering
Quite like a guttering flame: always shifting.

We might gather in person soon,
Seduced by the promise of a wild celebration.
But not today.
Quiet when it's over, worrying.

Waiting, our grand hopes scattered, eyeing the horizon,
Watching in darkness for an illusive dawn.

Ornery

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My ninety-year-old mother is getting stir crazy. She says to me:

  • I’m too old to be alive.

I say:

  • You’re too ornery for heaven and the devil knows you’d raise hell.

She laughs. She roars. She can’t stop.

  • My mother said the good die young, the rest are too ornery.

That’s my grandmother, who was herself pretty ornery and died at a ripe old eighty-seven. Ornerier than Mom.

Ornery, it’s a good word. A word for times like this when the world is upside down. Time to get stubborn. Find some beans, seeds and flour. Happy for a quinoa stash.