© Arthur Green

Winner, 2008, Wool Wagon Awards, Crookwell, Upper Lachlan.

Down the hallway to my study, with the only light a ruddy
glow from embers in the fireplace, casting shadows on the wall,
I crept softly as a thief would — bent on crime and up to no good,
cursing squeaky floorboards creaking at each poorly placed footfall.

I’d awoken just on midnight. Some sixth sense decreed I must write
what few lines of rhyming verse my addled brain could still recall,
for I knew the poem dawning would have disappeared by morning,
though that’s often the result when I can’t read my midnight scrawl.

While attempting, at the table, to recall what I was able
of those crucial lines of verse, with little luck, it seemed to me,
I was suddenly aware that someone else had come for her chat,
as my five-year-old, small daughter, wide-eyed, climbed up on my knee.

Then her whisper came, concerning her most fervent, ardent yearning
to know certain things I’d felt, ’til then, were better left unsaid.
“Are there fairies, Daddy, really, or just you and mummy merely
playing make-believe tooth-fairies after I’m tucked up in bed?”

Having lost her tooth, she’s very apprehensive the Tooth fairy,
whose been known to be forgetful, might well need this little chat,
for our Tess, like all her gender, knows the worth of legal tender
and her tooth out in the kitchen, was mute evidence of that.

With my poor brain madly straining through the few brain-cells remaining
still awake at this ungodly hour to help resolve my plight,
I assured her, “I’m not lying. Cross my heart,” while somehow trying
to drum up some facts on fairies she’d not heard before that night.

“As required for their protection, and to help escape detection,
their existence is a secret every fairy tries to keep.”
As I added just a few more, fancy facts on fairy folk-lore,
Tess relaxed and when I’d finished, she was once more fast asleep.

Bed for both, while not forgetting that damn tooth or I’d be getting
‘please explain’ looks from my daughter who, the instant she awakes,
would be out to check her molar had become a cash payola
and had better find a shiny fifty cents for all our sakes.

On awakening next morning, I found recollection dawning
of young Tess with all her ‘fairy’ doubts and fancy fibs I’d told,
with those lines of verse so very, absolutely necessary,
lost forever while I reassured a gap-toothed five-year-old.

Joyful squeals that emanated from the kitchen indicated
little Tess was giving vent to fifty cents of sheer delight,
and for me, her glee will ever, linger longer than those clever
words could hope to, and I knew at least I’d got the main thing right.

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