CIRCLES OF ROSES FOREVER Let me die in your arms. Let them carry me away holding your hand. I’ll hold your heart like a circle of roses forever, grown round my heart like ivy. Let “I love you” be the poisonous kiss that seals our sleep. We’ll need no “‘til death,” but we’ll play our part. Let us love.
ROSES STILL GROW Roses adored in your garden below Now frozen and bitter with snow Fairytale lies that you spun like a show And caught me with nowhere to go Morning and sunset I wonder too much And shadows and whispers come close Telling me gently of roses forgotten And where the good little child goes When was the moment when you saw me When was the truth of my name How did you ever come into my life And, worse, in my heart have a place? I’m not sure what love is, for true or not, I’ve never loved anyone, no, But fondness and friendship aren’t foreign to me I know where the roses still grow.
FROM SUMMER’S LIGHT Roses upon your kitchen counter, dried from summer’s light. Memories of each sunny day to last each winter night. So cold and so vacant, so left behind, the world of winter never touched by time. The sun comes through a miracle you see in each eye. Spring is only around the corner, once more a sunny sky.
MY SPIDERWEB HEART My heart is a spider web that caught you, caught you. My heart is the delicate lace that you spun, you spun. My heart is the precious stone that you found, you found. My heart is the place from which you run, you run.
LOVE’S CHILL Winter is a chill, But my love is a frost. It can’t be unrequited warm, So my love for you is lost.
I walk along the craggy hillside overlooking cliffs, green waves below.
My drop spindle careens from these heights, deftly spinning the wool tended by Melanthius as I search for your ship in the distance, that I might cast my line and draw you near.
Like you, my wool is roving, a grizzled storm cloud drifting over the sea.
Like the winds on your sail, I wind on, my journey brief, my work undone.
Murky memories of you surface when the morning light shines on our son’s tanned face, when a sheep bleats, alone, scared, in the black hours that belong to Nyx, when a storm cracks your name across the sky, rain muddying our fields.
But the years wane, my hair greys, my belly sags, and the bed, carved from an olive tree by your calloused hands, molders in your absence, its roots rotting in the brine of my tears.
I turn to the spindle, splicing together a ram’s fleece, algae, a bit of stag hide, sacred to the virgin goddess of the hunt, who nimbly wields a bow (even better than you), flax, grapevine from your father’s land, a hair from your pillow, preserved, still golden.
I adjust the tension, slow my tread, the thread elastic in my hands, strands of you plied not with a witch’s herbs, but the fibers of my existence without you.
For years my fingers cross warp and weft, weaving a new flesh to press against my face, to soak up my tears, caress near-virgin skin.
At last I finish, selvedge raw, snip the loose threads like a Moirai in training, stand back to admire my creation before it wraps its arms around my waist, woven torso snug against my chest.
We fall into bed, ever-fixed to the sallow olive tree, and shake its branches bare.
You are not the only one who has slept with monsters, but mine are of my own design.
I breathe life into the fibrous body beside me, and ignore the knock at the door – at last.
The Azure Captain
They say her hair turned azure from the sea, salt-tinged, waves like tongues lapping at her, marking her as theirs. A badge of acceptance, of expertise, her men begrudgingly do her bidding. She navigates the straights of the sea serpent, the coves of the kelpie, steers a walty mizzen past sleeping harpies to the keys of Kallisto using only the memory of stars to guide her.
She anchors off the reef, musky aroma of jungle flowers on the nearby keys knot her blue hair, overwhelm the men’s senses, drawing them portside. The captain retires to her cabin, the sun-colored horn, a trinket from a previous expedition, jangling at her hip, orders her men to keep watch, but the keys call to them – the lure of land, gravel, dirt between their toes, backs sinking into sand.
They whisper below deck, tales of muder, mutiny, their suspicions pour over the hull like swells cresting the ship in a gale. She feels the wood listing beneath her boots, knows the riotous winds shifting, closing in around her. Cursing the captain, the crew leap overboard, swim bare-chested in the moonlight, the reef lacerating their hands, arms wading through blossoms of blood until they reach the island. They kiss the sand, rub it up their arms to stanch the blood, until one man shouts, points at bones softened, wind-whitened, strewn along the beach. In the dark, they hear the low trumpet of a horn, turn to see a flash of blue billowing against worn sails before hearing the growl behind them.
A Feline’s Guide to Astronomy
Pinholes in curtain: constellations of starlight To navigate home.
Ingredients: 2 starved children (variety: hungry will do, unloved taste sweeter) 1 dusky forest, poorly marked and overgrown 1 gingerbread house (pre-fabricated acceptable, but guests will know)
Coat the starved children in tattered rags and lies. Lead them to the edge of the dusky forest, their trust as thin and brittle as the apologies of a feckless father.
Fold the children into the woods, aching limbs tumbling over upturned roots, ducking beneath flagging branches. Listen as their stomachs churn, breaking down the memories of bread, moldy and stale.
Place the gingerbread house, with sugar-coated shingles, caramelized shutters, frosted panes in the middle of the forest, at the cusp of the children’s exhaustion.
Make it impossible for them to turn back, turn around, only turn on each other.
Fill the children with confections, doughs, icings, delights their step-mother knew, but was too practical to bake or buy, yanking them away from the bakery window on every trip into town, muttering something about sweets and rot.
Pull apart the siblings, sever their tender, familial sinews. The bond that grew in the woods withers when brought to light, stumbling across the witch’s syrupy threshold.
Marinate the girl with memories of a timorous father, stooped and fallow, eyes hooded, dull like the boy’s; a willful step-mother; an empty store cupboard, crumbling pantry, hollow larder.
Double check that the oven is preheated, the fire blazing, ready, once she’s made her choice.
Knead her with strong hands, shaping her will, rolling out her future, papery thin, only enough to cover her scraped limbs, no scraps, no extra wasted in the woods by a prodigal brother, feeding sparrows, the hare, rather than surviving.
Allow the girl to rest, calculate the risks. Set a timer for five minutes. Do not allow her to over-think her next move, to regret her decision. Any longer and pity overwhelms her plot: escape, revenge, desserts that seem just to a child’s palate.
When she is ready, pinch her cheeks, dole out compliments. Garnish her with the courage to never look back.
Clean the oven once the girl has gone to bed, tucked in deep beneath layers of blankets to keep out the cold, the dark, the smell.
Toss the bones in a pot to simmer and cook down overnight. Nothing wasted, everything earned.
“Take this,” the minotaur snorts, holding a mirror out to Theseus, before he locks the serpentine labyrinth and steps into the sun for the first time, hooves biting unblemished soil, horns stretching up toward the blue sky.
Stag beetles scamper upon the heath where highway men once trod. Now lazy picnickers lie beneath asleep upon the sod.
An otherworld lies near the bog, unbeknownst to men, who heedlessly walk their dog, and tumble into the fen.
Lurking amidst the pen ponds wee fairy folk lie in wait, they slip from their fae bonds to gather at garden’s gate.
Planning their mischievous deeds, they gambol and caper away. Hiding betwixt the sedge and reeds, they giggle away the day.
All escapades and pulling pranks they wile away the hours, pushing tourists down grassy banks and pulling the heads off flowers.
Hiding stinkweed in the heath and tripping up the runners, sprinkling itch powder beneath and butter atop the sunners.
Their naughty day is over too soon. The faeries fly home for bed. Lying below the crescent moon, plotting their next day of dread.
Along the Lazy Gunpowder River
Ensconced within our tubular crafts, with dangling arms and feet, we slowly traverse down the river, attempting to beat the heat.
The morning mist lingers long as we slip amongst the stones. The little ones cause us no harm, the larger bruise our bones.
Tubing by the nodding ferns, slipping past the forest floor, the mighty river trundles us onward, greeting us with its roar.
Fisherman, with legs akimbo, reel out their translucent lines, while gawking deer stand poised to run, nestled beneath the pines.
Slow and deep the current runs, then shallow, swift and raucous. The twittering birds dip bills to drink, then resume their caucus.
Fuzzy owlets peer down at us as we navigate ox bow turn, while salamander and twisting newt regard us with concern.
Dangling vines and dipping branches swathe us in their arms. Beaver gnaw and fox hole scat, just a few of many quaint charms.
This pulsing waterway is life-filled, magical, and long. cradling us in majestic beauty, accompanied by nature’s song.
Our Hollow was quilted in a crisp white layer, cloud laden skies pressing down upon us. The crunch of our sinuous movements echoing eerily through the woods. My skis slid smoothly in the unblemished blanket, scritch-scritching in a rhythmic beat. The birds, seeking to escape our intrusion, flew aloft in unison, then wheeled northward. Heavy breaths forming icy crystals, escaped effortlessly from my lips. An ominous hush envelops us, as we pause to take in the winter spectacle.
Following the curving path through the forest, we press onward and upward. Filtered light shimmers down through the snow laden pines, playing tricks on our eyes. Adjusting to the looming darkness, catching sight of flickering movements, we pause. What forest creatures beleaguer us? Shadowy silhouettes teem about the trees. Clawing branches tear at our hair, gnarled roots engulf our skis, cones pelt us from above. Sinister slavering sounds send shivers down our spines, sending us once again on our way.
Frozen in time, a waterfall spirals and careens in its tortured path toward earth. Fooling our eyes with seeming visual movement that never stirs, yet is in constant motion. I imagine fearsome faces embedded in the crystalline ice in league with the tree sentinels. Body tired and chilled to the core, we navigate homeward in unspoken duality of fear. Warmed on the inside by potent potables, and crisped on the outside by the hearth, We entwine and reminisce on our winter playday filled with fearsome, fantastical beasts.
Siafra gently folded her gossamer wings about the crocus bloom.
Protecting the tender petals from the nippy snap of winter’s last hurrah.
Trailing her auburn locks in the freshly falling snow, She snuggled and nodded off.
Awoken with a start, engulfed in a soggy mitten she sputtered in anger.
Fiona’s eyes peered in awe at her captured prey, unclasping, she smiled shyly.
“Pardon me, sweet faerie, I didn’t mean no harm, off you shoo! Ta”
Pleased with the politeness, Siafra forgave her momentary capture, and fluttered off in frolicking freedom.
A pensive frolic through winters past we’ll take: Muffling silence greets me as I awake, The slanting brightness confirms overnight snow. Toes curled, anticipating, ready to go.
Layer upon layer bedecks my wee frame, rendering me hulking, unhappy, and lame. Enrobed to the satisfaction of mother, I trek outside, with big and bigger brother.
Ginger precedes us, her moist, black nose kept low, leaving paw prints and hot, steaming yellow snow. Stepping carefully in my brothers’ boot marks, I listen to her steam-spewing, joyful barks.
Merriment ensuing is etched in my heart. Angels, sleds and snow forts all play a big part. We frolic and hoot till we can’t feel our toes, we gambol for hours, with dripping wet nose.
At last, we trek homeward, too tired to go on. We yank off our wet layers, stifling a yawn. Mother serves us cocoa and cozies our bed. Fond memories remaining in heart and head.