Kate Garrett’s writing is widely published – recently or forthcoming in Dreich, Frost Zone Zine, Riggwelter, Fragmented Voices, and The Spectre Review – and her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of several pamphlets, including The Density of Salt (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016) which was longlisted for a Saboteur Award, Losing interest in the sound of petrichor (Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018), and most recently, A View from the Phantasmagoria, which was published in September 2020. Born and raised in rural southern Ohio, Kate moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives – on the Welsh border with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat. Find her online at www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk or Instagram @thefolklorefaery.
Magic tricks & flower crowns
We wished six months away waiting for the longest hours, now one boy’s joy is vendor- bought illusions: a length of cord he claims to cut in half, flourishes under our noses then giggles when the string flies unbroken from the box. It is midsummer, a birthday: this season when each dawn is a chance festival – today we rode two trains, walked a mile to get here. Strangers speak of mums and ducklings – and in the fairy tale she did it all without a father, too. We brush past racks of silk blooms twisted into circlets. My boy says I ought to have one. I only want our dandelion magic – acoustic guitar strings and ice cream smiles, the faces of solstice sons who will never be as young as this again.
Villain, villein – it’s all the same to me
Days start in the dark, white noise to wrap around the sunrise – shaky, temporary, jangled by drumbeats and chords hidden in my ears. I wake, count caffeinated stars instead of wine-soaked ones: how they shine at altered angles. The road curls around streetlamps, the whisper of the Don – and down a hill, up a hill, a journey past a castle slowly rising: nine hundred years, put in our place. It never changes. The stone bounces my footsteps to a supermarket built brand new, and within those walls we go through the motions to survive. Uniform. Time card. Miles between him and me, take a right turn – sparks spit and bluster, redden and burn my cheeks, truth or dare to those who think they’re the only ones who might explode – my light show is waiting in packed down powder, long fuse ready to break the wheel.
said I was too old like four years is a lifetime asked me to buy him a vodka and coke if I was as nice as I pretended to be wished more than anything that I would punch him in the face chastised me for smoking, but took a drag from my cigarette clapped his hands on my hips when I was too drunk and angry to notice reminded me I still seethed and boiled underneath a still life surface tried to knock me down a peg or two because I was ‘used to being beautiful’ had absolutely no idea who he was talking to would never say I was beautiful you can count on that showed me a girl’s number, his Friday trophy: he didn’t need me, he could get anyone shouted over the road to say I better not be watching him piss up this wall – insisted all women were out to get him agreed that time is a human invention walked beside me in dark midwinter stared at his feet like a little boy suggested I go home with him after all, maybe it would be alright, maybe – hugged me once, then turned away slid into the night in the posh part of town disappeared with the taxi’s brake lights left us both untamed.