Thursday, February 9, 2017

Howls in the Ice

Here's a poem I wrote long ago, dedicated to Nicola Griffith and her characters. It came to me long ago, right after I read 'Always'. I've just spoken to her on Twitter. I never thought I'd have a chance to do that. This was written, when she was just magical prose in a printed page. Later, I discovered she had MS. How many years ago was it? I never thought she'd ever see this poem. Perhaps she will, now.

This poem is dedicated to an author I’ve never met
She spun many a tale of strong women
Struggling to survive amidst the chaos 
Surrounded by people and politics, nature and mystery
In worlds like this one or born in science fiction
This poem was shaped by thoughts of her

Howls in the Ice

In an icy landscape
Where the trolls howl upon the fell
A bard raises her hand above the ice
She does not keep it, hovering there
Maintaining the lofty distance of the sorcerer with the elements
Her hand plunges into the ice
Ignoring cuts, bruises, and flow of blood
Ignoring the cold’s bite to the bone
Ignoring the howls of the hungry trolls
Or so it seems from the calm serenity on her face
She felt the bite, the pain, and heard the howls
They are all part of the process
A mighty cycle she willingly throws herself into
Without submission or sacrifice of her self
Her fingers have awakened to a dance, even as they freeze
This is not the shape they seek 
Chilled fingers move, feeling, aware
Shaping a tale from within the ice
This tale will be proud and beautiful
She does not bow to anyone
Nor does she fear, letting the quiver of danger freeze her 
A flush colors her pale cheeks as she hears the howls
Invigorating her young, newborn limbs
The bardic feelings the tale’s awakening spirit
As she works to free her from the ice
The howls are getting louder
Trolls circle bard and tale in their birthing place
Getting closer with every howl
The howls ring in the bard’s ears, making her shiver
The shiver tingles through her fingers to those of her tale
Shared awareness of danger brings shared powers
The tale discovers the strength to pull herself from the ice
The bard feels the powerful struggle of her tale’s birth
Her fingers are becoming numb 
Defying the cold takes its toll, as does defying the troll
Still, the bard maintains her connection to the tale
Passing on her strength, as the tale grows in might
Full grown, she pulls herself from the ice with a mighty howl
The howl is bloody with the pain of birth
Powerful with the joy of strength
Rich with the exhilaration of life
And grieved with the acceptance of her bard’s sacrifice
The bard, weakened by her struggle, looks up at the tale
Pride and wisdom weigh heavy upon her soul
Go, my daughter tale and never fear to shout your strength
Even as you walk through the land of the trolls
The tale studies the face of the one who created her
With a swift, decisive movement, she scoops up her bard
The tale’s strong arms can also be gentle
The bard sighs, as she finds herself carried across the ice
Even though she has spent her strength, the tale will go on
Walking an icy wasteland where the bard cannot go herself
The tale continues her proud march across the land of the trolls.

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