The Fairies’ Gifts
by Theodora Goss
The fairies came to my christening.
They were not invited — my family,
not being royalty, did not know
any fairies personally.
They just showed up, as fairies
One was older, about four centuries old,
the other was younger, less than a century,
a teenager, in fairy years. She
was the older one’s apprentice.
What shall we give the baby? she asked
the older. Fairies always bring gifts,
for better or worse.
They were both dressed
in diaphanous things: thistledown, moonshine,
spider silk, the wishes children make, the vows
made by ardent lovers, fairytale ever-afters,
the wind as it blows through birches.
They both had wings,
What do you suggest? asked the older.
The younger recognized this as a test.
Beauty? she said, looking at her mentor
nervously. Grace? Oh, I know. Let her be smart
and good at sums. Or maybe the ability
to play any instrument, carry a tune . . .
The older shook her head.
All those things can be learned, she said.
Let us give her, between us, courage
and the ability to endure.
(The image is by Edmund Dulac.)