September 22, 2010
“Do you love me?” she says, and the beautiful tension between you two snaps.
You’re not sure what that lilt in her voice means. It would be flirtatious, but her deep brown eyes are too sharp.
(Her everything is too sharp, too in-focus, as if she is the only real thing in the room.)
She coughs, and you realize you haven’t yet given her an answer. “Do you love me?” she says, and you startle at her husky alto. She’d been a soprano earlier.
She bats ice-blue eyes at you.
You don’t know what to say. You almost want to run, but it’s almost like there’s nowhere to run to.
(There’s not. There’s nothing else here right now.)
Thick, callused fingers, so unlike the fine ones you’d held for the dance, tilt your chin. “Well?” he asks, and he looks uncannily like the boy who sat behind you in your senior year, except his skin is already darkening and one eye is changing color again.
The person in front of you waits, shifting through all manner of skin tones, eye colors, body shapes, hairstyles, gender expressions, acting like you have all the time in the world.
(You do. You just don’t know it.)
Eventually, the shifting will stop, and the person you had been dancing with will look at you with your own eyes, and smile at you, and say, “You don’t understand the question.”
And you will sound sad when you say it.
September 21, 2010
When the hard-faced emissaries of the mainland Queen reached the outer isles and asked about sunken boats and drowned children and were any rescued by chance, they said, no no, nothing like that here. Nothing but cold sea and gulls, and seals and fish, and bitter wind on the barren rocks. And the men left, and one of theirs tugged the tattered blanket off the head of the red-haired infant sleeping at her breast.
In later years, folks over from the mainland often remarked on the redheaded child scuttling among the seaside hollows, but they just shut down conversation until the visitors shut up, and got very adept at steering curious folk away.
And when he went away into fosterage to a noble who actually had some sense, they listened, and in the long years of his absence they took note of his exploits, and they’d sit around the fire at one or another’s house and say, that’s our boy. no matter what them others say.
And when at long last he came back, battle-weary but wearing their marks with quiet pride, they took him back and tucked him in and sat around the floor of his house saying, that’s our boy.
A note: the “mainland Queen” is Morgause. Mainland is actually the name of the largest of the Orkneys, which always amuses me.
December 5, 2008
The rainbow is barely there, a scrap so faded you can only barely see its arc; it looks more like some careless smudge left by some careless painter than a rainbow. But it’s all he needs.
If you were to go by their names, you wouldn’t expect him to get anything useful out of a rainbow; after all, it is his brother who is Lord of Air, Lord of Sky, Lord of the Command. He is the Lord of Earth who lives in the sea.
But a rainbow is made of water.
And Enki is nothing if not crafty.
So he peels the scrap of color off the sky, pockets it, and returns home, smiling a smile his brother still finds unsettling, though it has never left his face.
November 26, 2008
Come out, sun, come out! Faster, faster!
It is very cold this morning.
Frost is crisp on my window.
Grass crunches underfoot.
The air sucks moisture
From my dry tongue.
Come out, sun,
October 30, 2008
The winds die down as you step outside.
The sky should be gray, but the clouds are bitter orange/burnt umber/something smoky like paprika.
It is strangely warm. (It was cold on the ride down, cold enough for your jacket – jewel-toned like a hummingbird – but now outside on an empty street with no real lights to speak of, it is oppressive, so you slip it off.)
You only catch glimpses of the river from here; there are other buildings – houses, a few, and shops – standing in your way. Watching like moai.
Surprisingly, you can’t see the bridge.
There are people nearby, people outside with you, but the road is cold (except strangely not for you) and dark (save for that eldritch glow of mundane houselights) and empty.
And the paprika sky still drags your eyes out towards the other shore.
And down the other side of the street, a streetlight that you could have sworn wasn’t there before is on, brilliant and bright, the clearest thing around –
– And as you stare at it, mesmerized like a rodent before a snake, the wind whips down the street like a long, long sigh,
and you see the head, resting not sixty feet up the road, with its open mouth swallowing the street and its streetlight-bright eye, and its long back curving away in forested hills across the river.
July 5, 2008
Well, first of all, it wasn’t a box.
(It is now. A foolish man broke it, and from its pieces I made a miniature mosaic chest.)
…formed perfect by the greatest craftsman the world had ever seen…
It was a jar, like a moderately large perfume jar, made of some luminescent green stone, with a copper stopper.
…knowledge of all crafts, the wisdom of the age…
And it didn’t hold what you think it did.
…speech and persuasion, grace and dignity…
Everything that they wanted for you, they put in that jar, and they gave it to me to deliver.
…justice, right laws, peace…
It was the heaviest jar in the world. It weighed nothing.
…beauty, mirth, and good cheer…
And they told me never to open it.
…but Hermes gave me a cunning mind.
But I knew what would happen if that jar remained sealed.
So I opened the lid…
But this isn’t my story. Or yours. Or even theirs.
…and let loose every ill you’ve ever known…
This is the story of a jar
…and faster than a human could move…
…in the long moment of a blink…
every good and true thing this world has ever known
…trapped the last of them in the jar. For you.
that was meant to be kept from you forever.
All golden ages must fall, lest we become monsters.
I am the All-Gifted, and I give you yourselves.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.