The Fairy Bird Flies

Fairy by Arthur Rackham

I wandered absent-mindedly into another room and without warning chanced upon the pair I sought – my reason with the fairy – although they did not see me at first for I remained out of view, the quietest of those present.

Both of them appeared to have changed clothes and had become somehow more real looking, which served to diminish their power in my eyes and deprive the sprite (as she had become) of the intensity of pure magical beauty.  Funny, then, that she attracted me somehow more strongly than when she had been composed entirely of fire and air.

The attraction was more basic though, for mingled with clay and water she seemed quite human, even if the golden hair, which had lost some of its length and lustre, still tumbled past her slender shoulders and glistened invitingly in the half-light.  She stood with her back to me, both hands joined with those of reason, who gazed at her in such complacent adoration that she did not see me at all.  I could not tell if they were dancing, making love or struggling with each other. Slight annoyance was mingled with an overwhelming desire to touch them both; I was totally beside myself and moved towards them determinedly.

As soon as I stepped forward they turned around quickly.  My reason beamed at me beatifically, “At last, you’re here, what on earth have you been doing, you were ages? We’ve been having a fantastic time!”

I acknowledged that the other one was less pleased to see me, but also that she grew lovelier once again as the weight of reason drew away from her.  The same reason moved languidly to my right and rested her head on my shoulder, “I love you”, she murmured softly, once again my modest companion. Fire grew in the sylph-like eyes of the other and with every inspiration she became more like the wind.

Subtly, almost imperceptibly, her robes changed again to the hue of dawn on a bed of blossom and the coils of hair unfurled into their pure golden streams.

I abandoned myself for an instant and lay down on the dewy carpet. As she spread her wings I closed my eyes and sighed in half-forgotten ecstasy, while the fairy bird leaped silently into the air and across our reclining figures, touching the surface of our skin with the hem of her gown as she passed us by on the scent of lilies and melted into the future night, rosy as clouds before dusk.

Was this the appearance of my passion?  I held it close as I lost consciousness and entered oblivious insight, soothed by the treasures of the sleeping mind.