From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

How to Find Yourself Again

decide, in the ignorant way of children
that now’s the time to grow up
fold away your dreams
along with your wings
be good
whatever that means
earn certificates of achievement that
slice papercuts into your fingertips
wounds that sting
but never bleed

tell yourself that all that magic stuff
the talking cats and those furry monsters
that lived deep in the woods
were all part of your
overactive imagination

resolve to be lovable
the way you choose to be fashionable
clothe yourself in Name Brands
and smile a lot

the papercuts
still hurt

after decades of the charade
realize, in the wise way of children
that being fake is stupid

ask the cat at the antique store for help
follow them to find a weathered
pair of wings buried in an old steamer trunk
buy them
don’t even wait to smooth out the wrinkles

decide to fly

scream as you soar high enough
to taste stars
sweet and bitter and cold
and glorious

the old cuts still sting
but that’s okay
your shoulder hurts, too
your knees pop
your teeth aren’t all real but
your grin is

fly through midnight woods
where the monsters still wait
cry as they welcome you home
their dagger-long claws
gentle
upon your back

Beth Cato

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She’s the Nebula Award-nominated author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her short stories can be found in publications ranging from Beneath Ceaseless Skies to Uncanny Magazine. In 2019, she won the Rhysling Award for short speculative poetry.

Beth shares her household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and three feline overlords. Her website BethCato.com includes not only a vast bibliography, but a treasure trove of recipes for delectable goodies. Find her on Twitter as @BethCato.