Kate Garrett

Kate Garrett’s writing is widely published – recently or forthcoming in Dreich, Frost Zone ZineRiggwelter, 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. 

Petruchio

 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. 

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