Tenderness is a Violent Love

By Meredith McCrary


A tiny violin sits at the foot of a fairy’s table. 

The fairy is sure that she has never seen it before.

And still, it sits.  


This can’t be, she thinks,

for the fairy is sure that she has hidden tenderness in the back of the drawer desk and pushed too much debris in front of it.

And still, it sits.



Because she surely has piled quiet rage and old receipts and packages addressed to the wrong person, and the echo of your song, and old pieces of clothing, and Silly String, and paper clips, and the bittersweet buoyancy of being with you on top.

And still, it sits.


No, because she is surely not picking the tiny violin up now. She is surely not bringing it outside.

And yet, she is.


Molding her bones around the doorframe and around emptiness, and spilling her body into the lime morning air, the garden dances for her.

What a vivid scene.


The moss dressing itself in color,

The bee searching for his violin,

The ladybugs lining themselves across the tree trunks: apprehensive to dance and elegant in their polka-dotted costumes,

And even the frogs croak as if to say “look, we are ready to sing, too”.

The garden breathes music, and yet the fairy’s remembrance tastes of rage.

What a vivid scene.

For the fairy must have remembered this.

Thousands of years of waiting, the fairy heard the tender music, and hid it away.

For how terrible a pain: to love something so viciously, you forget how to zip your chest back up, and save some for yourself. And the fairy forgot. And she lost her love. And she left.

For, what a fear we have for faulty things. Like zippers, and shaking mornings, and unburdened tenderness.

How funny a thing: the loss of it.


And still, 

The frogs wade closer to the fairy, the rims of their pants bathing themselves in water and fear. 

The ladybugs become anxious.

And the bee flies to the fairy.


He has no fear for love. For his chest has been zipped for a while. He fears only for the fairy, and he says “would you like to join in our music, again, friend?”


And surely, he is being sincere. But it only breaks the fairy. 

For she has spent so long burying her own tenderness under rage, 

And good god, isn’t that all she has left?

But she doesn’t know what to say, 


So she gestures around her and speaks,

“I am too afraid to undress my fears today. Too tired to unravel my head into a thread with which I will be required to draw a portrait of the pain in an attempt to pinpoint it. My wings grow tired of pulsing, so I have simply folded them into themselves. I am tenderly unknown and my chest has been overgrown with so many weeds that I bleed green. What a horror I am.”


And the bee looks at the fairy and says “well not today then. This evening, we will just listen to music, and that will be enough. Is that alright? For tonight is not the night to bleed flowers, now is it?”


And the fairy nods.

And the bee plucks a thread off of her sweater, attaches it to his violin bow, and starts playing. 

The frogs begin singing. 

The ladybugs, dancing. 

And it is just a song. And the whole garden is just listening. 

And everyone is just okay.


Art by Chris Nguyen