This week’s Tanka Tuesday poetry challenge was an Ekphrastic #PhotoPrompt provided by Lisa Thompson. Thanks Lisa.
“Don’t Eat the Toadstools.”
… called her grandfather as three-year-old Sarah ran ahead of him across the park lawn to peek at the little fairy tables. “They’re poisonous.”
“They’re fairy tables. I don’t eat tables, Silly Grandpa,” Sarah called back at her grandpa as the wind whipped her words and carried them far away from him where he couldn’t hear them.
She reached the trees where the toadstools grew. All around the mushrooms growing in the ground were larger cement “fairy tables” that beckoned to children to step into their magic circle with a posted sign that said, “Never step inside a fairy ring.”
Sarah was only three and couldn’t read. She touched the sign. It was rough where the someone scratched out curly words. Sarah had questions that would hardly wait. Did fairies write the sign in magical writing? Could her grandpa even read the fairy writing? Where were the fairies?
Getting down on all fours, as three-year-olds are prone to do, she turned her head from side to side looking under the heavy toadstools for a sign of winged magic. She pushed the cement fungi. They didn’t move.
“Hurry up, Grandpa,” she called. “I need help.”
“Don’t go in there, Sarah,” Grandpa warned as he leaned against a tree and panted.
“Does this sign say when the fairies will come to eat?”
“It does not. It says to stay out. Which of the toadstools do you think are real, Sarah, the little or the big ones?”
Polar opposites Old teaches young teaches old Different perspectives
“They both are. Grandpa. I could sit on those big ones.”
“And you’re not even a toad.”
Sarah swiped her hand against her grandpa’s sweatered arm and pulled him closer to the sign.
“You’re a toad, Grandpa. You didn’t read the sign. What does it say? Do toads like fairies?”
Storybook fairies In the eyes of a child Illusions alive
As an answer, her grandpa sat down on a bench near the cluster of mushroom statues.
“It’s a very old sign, little one. The writing is almost cursive but not quite. Maybe old English. You explore under the big trees while I sit here and rest. But don’t go near the big mushrooms. How many real toadstools do you think you can find? I see one already. “
He pointed to a small orange mushroom with a slanted stem under a tree.
Sarah squatted and looked under the tiny mushroom. No fairies. She pushed it. It bounced. She pinched it. It squished and left black fairy dust on her fingers.
Imagination Sparking investigation Yielding first failure
“I killed the fairy’s table, Grandpa.” Sarah cried as she ran to her grandpa wiping her tears with her spore-coated fingers. “Now the fairy won’t have a place to eat. She will die.”
Grandpa took out his handkerchief, because this happened a very long time ago when grandpa’s had handkies with them at all times in case of emergencies. As he wiped Sarah’s face, five kids about six or seven years of age ran up to the cement toadstools, bumping into each other as they stopped to read the sign.
One girl couldn’t stop in time and fell into the ring of the fairies. Suddenly the toadstools came to life and fog spilled out from under them and the little girl was immersed in cold, wet clouds.
Mechanical toadstools Concocted to ignite dreams And delight children
Sarah jumped up and down, screeching like little girls do as she ran into the center of the fairy ring of toadstools. She grabbed the bigger girl’s hands and they spun around as all the kids danced in the fairy’s fog.
Fairies forgotten In the joy of children's play Expectations changed
by Marsha Ingrao
Announcing the Start of Rodeo Contest Month at Carrot Ranch
Flash fiction and poetry with a western flare. Starts October 5th. Mark your calendars.