Mama Gonna Fight

March 3, 2015


Beth Cato is the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER series of steampunk fantasy novels from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Her website is

tell your mama,
as she kneads her dough with floured hands,
how we fairies glint in evening light,
how we tell you tales of a world beyond the veil
of stomachs that never hunger, lips
that never wait to be kissed.

tell her how a prince awaits you
yes, even you, daughter of a house slave
your skin fair as copper, but never fair enough to be free
tell her we fairies say you’re pretty,
that we like pretty things.

your mama, you know she’ll argue
that them Irish brought over more trouble than hunger,
these fairies worst of all.
any folk crossing from the other side cause mischief
whether they come from Africa or Mississippi.
she’ll say God should have mercy on your soul.

tell your mama
real freedom waits across the veil
and what kind of God would want you to stay a slave?

you tell yourself to stay strong
as she scolds you something fierce,
says the war can’t last forever,
that soon, Lincoln soldiers will march on down.

you tell her it’s been near five years
and you don’t like how Old Master Gritt’s watching you.
you’d like to meet this prince and eat cake
that’s not stale or licked by the master’s dogs,
that you’re old enough to know your mind.

she’ll say she’ll whip your hide
and she won’t let no fairies take you away.

tell your mama we understand
and that we like a good fight.

© Beth Cato

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  1. medicmsh

    Wow. Great poem; so much story in such a well-chosen handful of words! Thank You!

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