Saturday, August 06, 2005


She opens her eyes, he is startled by blue
So blue that they make the word shout
He is drowning in blue that is fresh and so new
Like the end of a long, barren drought

Her song has been stopped by a smile
As soft as the clouds in the sky
An enchantment that could beguile
The rivers and seas to run dry

“Why does the blue sea turn?” she asks
Shading her eyes from the sun
“Who gave the dolphins their long silver backs?
How soon will the waves be undone?”

He is stuttered to stillness by her clear crystal voice
By her words with no plan to their rhyme
Is she speaking without any kind of a choice?
Lost in some stray piece of time?

Is she speaking in madness, in some kind of trance?
As one whose wits have gone blind?
Or is this some kind of elaborate dance
Does she know what he has on his mind?

His heart skips a beat and pain clenches his back
Shoots through his arms to his head
Agony stabs at the man dressed in black
And with it a well traveled dread

It never will stop, but continue to grow
And he knows there is nowhere to run
He looks at the girl and he clenches his jaw
And prepares to do what must be done

He knows that somehow he must make her sing
It’s the only dark, desperate way
To finish this creeping, detestable thing
This pact to deceive and betray

“I’ve never . . . I’ve never heard such a voice”
His own voice is hollow as tin
“It makes the sunshine wake up and rejoice
To stop now would be such a sin . . .”

She smiles again and opens her mouth
Her voice begins soft, low and mellow
Singing of buttercups, sun in the south
She sings out bright streams of yellow

She sings out of daisies and butter
Of lemons and sunflower sun
Of canaries with wings all a flutter
And lamplight where stories are spun

He is lost in the spell of her voice
Sinking under a bright amber wave
He struggles to hold on to choice
With the desperate despair of a slave

He must stop her bright golden singing
With black terror his heart is rife
With saffron his ears are ringing
Fingers curl on the sharp cuttle knife

“Oh sing just like you sang before!
‘twas a balm so clear and clean”
She nods her head and begins once more . . .
Singing the healing salve of green

She sings of spring and the birth of green
Of a pure, fresh grassland breeze
Of jade and emerald and aquamarine
Of the lusty green song of the trees

He is caught by the vision of woodlands
His blood echos the sweet rising sap
Then he is back on these misunderstood sands
With the sharp sudden sting of a slap

She gazes up at him with eyes of green
And he is rocked with a deep dawning dread
In a whisper so clear it can almost be seen
He breathes out, “Sing something red”

So she sings about rubies and cherries
Of roses bloomed ripe from the bud
She sings of cardinals and berries
She sings of the rich red of blood

When the singing has stopped her hair is red
And she speaks through the roar of the sea
“What is it fills the waves with dread?
Who drowned the split crimson tree?

Why does the sky taste of ashes?
Why are the stars so arcane?
Is time lost when thunder crashes?
What must I give for your pain?”

A hush washes over the man dressed in black
And his head is bent down with shame
The thought of his gruesome, intended attack
Leaves him sickened and covered with blame

“Oh, She who breathes color” he whispers low
“I came here in stealth and deceit
But I can not go on with this ghastly show
Or make this base bargain complete”

The wind whips the strands of her new scarlet hair
She smiles and just shakes her head
“I know of your compact and of your despair
I know of the things that you dread . . .

I speak not of darkness, or bindings or guilt
But the harsh pain with which you’re possessed
For castles of sand must be always rebuilt
And I have a dissolving request

Who suckles the sun at midnight?
What is the language of rain?
Who gathers the threads of the twilight?
What must I give for your pain?

Put a price and a worth on your torment
If you can contain and supply it
I’ll count any fee fairly spent
I would contract to purchase and buy it”

He stares in utter disbelief
Thoughts of grim nights of unending pain
When he speaks his voice is thick with grief
“You must be completely insane.”

Her face is untouched by surprise
In her eyes the smile still swam
A smile that is patient and wise
And she answers, “you know that I am

I sit by the sea singing moonshine rhyme
In the sun and the dark and the rain
Transposing color to concrete design
There is nothing in that, that is sane

Who carved the ocean’s wildest wave?
What is the smell of a prayer?”
Here eyes are brown and still and grave
She meets his and holds him there

“Now I ask, are there weeds in a King’s wine?
Words that shout and echo ‘insane’
You can see I’ve stepped over that fine line
What must I give for your pain?”

He closes his eyes and rocks on his heals
As a sweet, aching hope shoots through
Of all the unearthly preposterous deals
Is this crazy enough to be true?

He looks in her eyes, so deep he is lost
It seems that he hangs there for weeks
Then suddenly something screams: ‘Damn the cost!’
Before his mind changes, he speaks

“You must give me the skill to compose
Though my mind is now wounded and scarred
Give back the color to yesterdays rose
Give me the words of a Bard.”

She blinks once, her eyes thick with thought
Then she answers, “‘twill be as you choose
Since this is the thing you have sought
I will give you the gift of the Muse

I will give you the blessing of words
I will hand you the lore weavers thread
I will give you the music of birds
And the deep resurrection of red

In return you will give me your pain
Secured in this gold and bone locket
You will give me the color of rain
And the moon that you keep in your pocket”

For a moment he’s startled by rage
As if he were holding the moon!
Like an eagle trapped in a cage
Then he is caught by the edge of a tune

She is singing again and swaying
A piercing song, clear, clean and true
She somehow seems to be praying . . .
A crystalline song with no color or hue

His hand has reached for his knife
A sharp edge of cuttle and bone
But this moment’s a prism of a life
As his hand meets not cuttle, but stone

Pulled from his cloak, it lays on his palm
A hard little rain-colored round
She steps up to him with a smile of calm
And takes it, without any sound

She holds out the locket, on a long golden chain
Forged of old gold and deep carved bone
As it falls in his hand he is crippled with pain
And doubles over his hand with a groan

His body is wracked with every pain
He has ever felt before
From the base of his foot to the top of his brain
Each anguish doubled times four

He is falling, the locket snaps shut
And the pain is erased in a breath
He stands silently clutching his gut
His face just a shade short of death

She takes the chain from his shaking hand
And loops it over her head
Then she bends to the shining wet sand . . .
For a dry, crumbling rose that looks dead

A memory had gone tumbling
From his clock to lay crushed on the sand
Now it lies abandoned and crumbling
Black with age, in her small pale hand

She slashes her palm cross the one razor thorn
Her blood on the crushed rose is shed
As if touched with fire, the rose is reborn
Blushing, blooming in lustrous red

With a smile, she gives him the rose
“There is yesterday’s color my friend
Though it’s different than you suppose
Our contract is now at an end”

Then she wipes her palm on his cloak
And a bright scarlet stains starts to spread
And like quick flame and billowing smoke
It is kissed with a bright spreading red

Crimson licks up his inky dark cape
Like a hot, hungry ruby red fire
Before he can move or escape
He is clothed all in Scarlet attire

She dabs a drop of blood between his eyes
Where it shines like a ruby shard
“Ah!” she says, “here, I surmise
Is the famous Scarlet Bard!”

Then she walks away, and that is the end
Calling back once over her shoulder
“Here is something to remember my friend
Before you get too much older . . .

There is an alternative flow to each river . . .
Remember, you’ve always a choice!
Now I’ve got a locket to deliver
To a man with a hissing, dark, voice . . .

Oh, why are the planets not strung on wire?
Came her voice as she vanished from sight
Have the cows formed a rainbow cloud choir?
Who paints the doorstep of night . . . . ?”


“And that is the tale!” sings the Scarlet Bard
“Truth wrapped in ribbons of rhyme”
All through the crowd is a murmuring regard
For a tale both warm and sublime

One small thoughtful face by the fires
Rests her chin on the top of her knee
Tugs on the red cloak, and inquires
“What happened to the spiraled iron key?”

The Bard gazes into the fires
Where scarlet ceaselessly blooms
He considers what mythos requires
And the things that a story presumes

“I’d forgotten that iron spiraled key!
What do you know about that?
Well, he left it there by the sea
On the rock where the blue girl once sat

The waves took it away, I suppose
In their vast, mysterious space
Where it has gone no body knows
It vanished with nary a trace . . .”

“The key to his heart!” a breathy voice said
But the Bard smiles, with cynical eyes
“Nope, The key to the old decrepit shed
Where he kept his fishing supplies.”

A murmur of protest sweeps round the fire
But the Bard laughs and claps his hands
“Now I’ll tell you a tale to inspire
Filled with secrets of far foreign lands!”

Happy expectancy hums round the fire
His listeners quickly agree
As he bend down to re-tune his lyre
He feels a small hand on his knee

The child looks in his eyes and smiles
And he smells the sea and the sand
Thrown back through years and miles
He feels something slipped in his hand

She presses his hand to his heart like a prayer
“One day she’ll come back, you’ll see”
When he blinks there is nobody there
In his hand is a spiraled iron key

©Edwina Peterson Cross


At 12:31 AM, Blogger Megan Warren said...


this is just beautiful!


Post a Comment

<< Home