At the free special exhibit opening on contemporary fairy folk art at the university art museum, I’m sure fairies are hiding behind the trees in the photograph, behind the girl, the one like your sister, with the candy cigarette. This is America, the late 1980s of outlandish white ruffles, plastic wristwatches, hair sun-bleached and wild. We let summer turn our skin tawny. We say we want boys because that’s what the movie girls say—heroes, stone mansions, big plastic boobs, shiny SUVs. All of us have kid sisters, some brother climbing the ladder, blurred in our background. We face the flickering of Do it! because that’s what girls do. This landscape, fairies, girls, and ladder-brother, that is meant to be us, meant to be America, is everything I remember—fountain drinks, nickel candy from the bottom shelf, bubble gum tattoos, fairy lip balm. America, do you believe in fairies? America, put your queer girl shoulder right here. Snap your fingers. America, don’t die.
[From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016). First appeared in Toad the Journal, 5.2, 2015. Also appeared in also appeared in the anthology Circe’s Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women. Bianca Spriggs & Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, Eds. Accents Publishing, 2015.]
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).
2 thoughts on “Candy, Cigarettes, and Fairies–Laura Madeline Wiseman”
Madeline, I loved this when I first read it in your book. It’s still strong. Brilliant. Good to read you again. Bob.
“What the movie girls say.” So right on.