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Tinker Bell Thinks About What She Wants

To this Tink replied in these words, ‘you silly ass,’ and disappeared into the bathroom.  “She is quite a common fairy,” Peter explained apologetically, “she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the pots and kettles.”  —J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

Tink. Tink.  Makes me sick, the lick
of their soft calls, this flighty work:

dust won’t take the dents
from these pots, won’t unwarp the kettle. 

I want impact, the magic of my fists 
fixing metal through their brute launch.

Wish I’d had the luck to gulp a clock—
to have a life divided by firm ticking

from a heavy center.  Instead Tink, Tink
coming always from the outside, feather-

feeble, the brush of words from boys
who’ll never want more than a mother.

Instead I’m steam—Goddamn—desire like waters
thinning to the ends of me and lifting                 

me unwilling from the earth
each time I see him.             Peter,

pull me down. I want you
but wish I did not need your hands

to do my dirt work, your heavy heat to solder
or your pretty mouth to                 

tell me over, make me more    
than a sliver of a dead child’s laugh.

Kiss me kettle-hard: yank                    
my sorry ass from Never.   

Somewhere I’m skin without wings.
Somewhere my name means tough as light.


What Wendy Tells Her Brother

“Listen, then,” said Wendy, settling down to her story, with Michael at her feet. . . . ”There was once a gentleman [whose]  name . . . was Mr. Darling, and her name was Mrs. Darling.”
“I think I knew them,” said Michael rather doubtfully .  —J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

Don’t you remember
living behind bricks,
dry paper asters flowering to the wall
and curtains rough and broad
drifting past the glass that held us?
The yellow roses pouring down our mother’s dress?
Don’t you remember
the smell of her—lemon and ash—
her skin’s speckle like wrens’ eggs
and the warm wind of her moving in
off the edge of the bed, to hover
by cool sheets and bring her hands
down on your face
like rain?  We were safe there,
bandaged to our beds by cotton quilts,
hearing the scratch of toothless things—
her slippers’ dull drag on the tile.
Sometimes I want to follow the sky back
to that dream, where I’m
a daughter again and you’re
nosing someone else’s knee.
We carried coins and umbrellas
and read a black clock on the wall.
And though it wasn’t real
it was home.  And though it was in time
it was ours, the mother and father
who draped the air, their bodies strange
and soft with yearning.
It felt right to have a mother, to live
in the lap of a world I hadn’t made.
Don’t you remember?
It felt just like this story
that I am telling you.


Wendy Remembers Falling
London, 1930

I had only wanted my mother.
You’d think it would be flight 

I’d remember—that sweet ache,
my new body swimming
all night through a garnet sky—

but here at King’s Cross
when I feel the engine lurch

I’m falling down the slate
stairs again to my mother,
dead ten years now but still standing

at the foot of the past in her yellow dress,
her hand a wing or cry that lifts 

but will never meet my small hips
which rise and lose air spinning
hand-to-kneebone, shoulders storming steps

until my chin splinters: arrival strikes my tongue.
I had only wanted her hands—

the leather of her warm fingers in my hair,
even the smooth-glass drag of her ring.
Now I wonder if that’s why

I learned to fly:
because the only way down

had turned out to be
the crack of my bones and hard rain,
because all her hands had done

was find her lips
and rest against them

as I slapped and slid my hard way
to her shoes: their refusal,
that alien brown shine.


Notes from a Fairy Autopsy

“It was poisoned, Peter,” [Tinker Bell] told him softly, “and now I am going to be dead.”  —JM Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

1.  The Initial Report

How can I tell
what’s missing?
In the bowl: the glint of her
powdered, red-gold,
by the jet shine
of her thin flight-bones

and a button,
the pearl-eye
from the center
of her left wing—
stolen, she’d once said,
from her mother’s
last coat.

Searched too and set
on the tray: buds
of loose glass stained
and the bits of dark-wine shell
that starred
her blood, gone bronze

now that it’s dried in trails
through the handful
of painted dust
we’re calling a girl:

and here,
two bones from the tongue
of a lark—
I can’t even say.

They smell like apples.
They may have been her hands.

2. Cause of Death

Well, did somebody hit her?
Wendy was never
her friend, but Wendy’s gone
years now, her strong arms
likely folded on some train
through London,
the city she’d tell 
when we needed bricks in rain.

We’d say Pirates,
but they always swarmed
down like storms—
and now without Hook 
they just stink and swear dull songs.
At that hour
all their silver threats
were sleeping.

Kill a fairy?
Can’t think who’d care
enough anymore.

She once claimed she’d been poisoned—
her trick, we think,
to make us say 
we believed.
A tooth-bright ocean, her need.

This morning we woke
to find her petal-pressed to the wall,
a lit map, a coral-and-wine
bright shrine of a stain.
Maybe a dream did her in.

Could she have been old?
We don’t ask that here.
Peter needs all
our play foul. 
Grief grounds him.

3.  Confession from the Coroner

So, I’m not
really a doctor—
just the boy Pete
gave the white coat.
I’ve got a handkerchief shroud
and an oily toothpick dagger.
I don’t know what killed her

and if you ask me
we’re all
dead already.
I miss my mother.  She’d know why
I’m standing over a tray
of crushed wings, numberless sunset bones.
I miss her
and her warm, dry skin.  


Sally Rosen Kindred’s first full-length book, No Eden, was released by Mayapple Press in 2011.  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Best New Poets 2009, The Journal, Quarterly West, and Hunger Mountain.