Copper Ring


Thick with the solemn lily’s spring

A valley pale and weeping shadow

He plucked that twisted copper ring

Hammered graves and graves ago

And touched a moment the very seam

Holding his islands amidst the flow

Yet red sky’s flicker through the leaves

Saw him stand, and let it go.

~

Elizabeth Cook, 2016

At the Wayside


I walked to where the river ran

On those spring days in ages past

When the oak trees were but saplings

And below, this road was but a path

Winding to the place where we

Would by chance so often meet

Beside the river, upon the hill

Where all was limned in peace.

We two wanderers, Niphophar,

Laid down fare, laid down arms

Breaking fast as if long years

Had left us as companions are

Continue reading “At the Wayside”

Length of Stone


They didn’t listen
When I tried to keep them from the stone
It ground along its groove
And at the sounds within
They mistook dread
For wonder flickering in my eye
Shuffling, he came out as promised
Outwardly hale and yet
I smelled the rot on his wrappings
He smiled at them
And I knew that his smile was
A skull strumming threads of flesh
He would turn to me next –
Realizing this, I evaporated
Back under the hangings
Milha said,
He could follow you, you know
But it had been a long two years
Walking behind him
Now, I held the length of my stride
Dearer than unsought miracles
I tied my bundle tightly
And went out into the desert
~
Elizabeth Cook, 2016

The Night Hag’s Poem


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Spin and shatter and sweep the clay

With changing clouds and winding days

No work of human hand withstands

Time’s oft-short allotted span

So clay unto earth, earth unto dust

Towers to crumble and ploughs to rust

‘Till wilds run where they once did creep

Through wood and marsh, and scarlet deeps

With changing clouds and winding nights

Raze their fields and drown their lights

Grind clay unto earth, earth unto dust

Towers to fall and swords to rust

Follow, and hasten the workings of time

Hear the fellhorns and heed the signs

Waste the walls of their dead knight

And run them down with claw and blight

No work of human hand withstands

Time’s oft-short allotted span

But know you he who defies time?

Follow, follow, the Wizard of Nine.

~

Elizabeth Cook, 2015

Lanaiea’s Watch


I beg that you tell me of Lanaiea, waiting at her watch
Is she impassive through dawn and tempest
Through shadows’ sway and sunset’s hush?

~

Does she remain fair as when she took her place
When the Elitheriel left our shores?
Disappearing in the Brightling, to sail forevermore

~

I beg that you tell me of Lanaiea, for I shall never tread
To her lonesome watch, when none else so spend
Their hearts upon suspense

~

I might gift her warmth and sustenance, and lightest melodies
Yet these would only cloak her silence
While her eyes stay on the sea

~

Untouched by worldly comforts, keenly do I know
That none, and not I, could give her more
With the Elitheriel lost, forevermore

Elizabeth Cook, 2013

Image by Christophe Vacher

Hourglass


If only to slip through

This curving wall of glass

Wherein life turns and spills

Spills down the warming glass

And my wish beheld is granted

In pressing palms pressing on

Past the gleaming barrier

Made pliable and soft

I stand under the torrent

To breathe the passing sights

To marvel and to swift forget

How I watched from the outside

For I have gained the hourglass

Where shimmering sands fall

To bathe my feet, my hips, my neck

‘Til I do not breathe at all

Copyright Elizabeth Cook 2013

Orison – 4


Continued from

Orison

Orison – 1

Orison – 2

Orison – 3

~

Even without sight I could tell as the house loomed and I was borne within.

I could only act as myself in part, and could be nothing more than what I pretended to be. On this my life rested. My eyes flashed open once inside, and with a cry I let out all the fear that had been building. The man carrying me did not so much as miss a step. The house was great and empty, and I froze in awe at the room he brought me into. It stirred memories too old to recall. Cushions littered the floor around a low mahogany card table. Divans made a half-circle, and a great harp stood behind them.

I wriggled free. I think he let me do so, for there was no other way out of the room, and I scrambled away across the cushions until there was nowhere left to go, and there I sat drooping but wary, exhausted by the effort. Continue reading “Orison – 4”

Orison – 3


Continued from

Orison

Orison – 1

Orison – 2

~

Before a year had passed I was restless. Balsa knew before I did; I saw her watching, and was at first puzzled by the new lines around her eyes.

We were in the kitchen, peeling roots. I thanked her again for all that she had done for me, and asked how I might repay that debt; she replied that it was only right to settle debts before leaving a place. And she set me to bringing in the washing, and taking inventory in the cellar, and cleaning the baths.

It went on for some time. Until Balsa struggled to find new tasks for me, and wore an expression that made me sad and guilty.

I avoided her eyes and their lines. I wondered if it was wrong to go – I hoped that I might stay. But men had made roads that went north, and even had there been no roads I would have been forced to go that way, lest I live without deserving each breath.

Spring turned to summer, and one morning Balsa gave me a bag.

“It is best to go when it is warm.” She kept her face blank and I was torn. Continue reading “Orison – 3”

Orison – 2


Continued from

Orison

Orison – 1

~

In a room with white paper walls they asked me if I had any reason to live. If I had, what had I been doing during my time in the streets? What had I been doing with all that I knew and all that I did not know? Why had I not been seeking, tireless as the pole star, after some way – however despicable – to climb up from my impermanent place in the world?

Kneeling, head bowed, I begged their forgiveness.

When I woke I was the weakest I have ever been. I laid there and memorized the straw bed, and the bareness of the room. I could not see out the window. After some time a woman came, and she asked me how old I was. I did not know.

She was Balsa, wide and tall, who kept that inn with no one but her hired help, and who had an old sword hidden behind her bar. They said she had used it before. Continue reading “Orison – 2”

Omanon and Lir – 2 of 2


Continued from Omanon and Lir – 1 of 2

~

So Lir descended, his long form slipping into the water. Omanon watched him and he glowed. When he dove she thought on dolphins and flying fish, and then he smiled and walked from the water onto the land, just as she wished. The droplets streamed from him and he laid down in the sunlight, growing dry and warm and crusted in sand. She thought on reptiles basking, and seals covering the beaches. Then he walked over silt and rocks, and over solid earth, letting her see hills and mountains before he returned to the sea.

Creatures and plants that she had seen when he walked the land sprang up in his footsteps, and when he slid into the water again there were fishes and corals and whales. They nosed the depths and found the currents while Omanon watched them and watched Lir, who floated on his back unseen and unfelt by the growing planet.

Whether the planet grew more out of her imagination – her spectral memories – or out of the computer, she did not know.

The light came and went. Lir drifted in the ocean of Omanon’s thoughts, his body a patchwork in the ripples made by water and light. And though he soon found land and stretched out, content in sun or in water as she had envisaged, still he asked.

“What next, Omanon?” Continue reading “Omanon and Lir – 2 of 2”