First appeared on my Patreon as a monthly reward, Dec 20, 2017. Become a Patron!
there was nothing between earth and sky
but the animals,
and nothing between animals and gods.
Even among many,
one spirit may be lonely.
She of storms without name,
collector of mountains,
daughter of entropy,
she who plaited the moon's crown for winter,
and who was sister
to morning and midnight,
she was such a one.
This one went out
and looked for her companion.
She gathered bones,
bones thrown out by the earth,
bones thrown up by the owls,
bones thrown down from the mountaintops.On the bare ground she laid them,
on shallow trenches
dug into the unchanging turf.
She laid the bones on the earth.
As they clattered into place,
the knocking ends
spat out sparks
and the grass caught fire.
Pulling hairs from her head,
she braided them with winds,
and with the knife's-edge of fear,
to tie the bones together.
She strung her harp tight.
Through the fire she called the hare,
and snared him in the ribcage,
From below she called the crawling things,
every little earth-mover and corpse-devourer,
mounded for a belly,
Down from above she called the hovering throngs,
gnat and butterfly and whirring beetle,
clustered for lungs,
They glistened and writhed
and shook the skeleton
in the fire-light.
It danced on its threads.
She spoke to the crawling children
who dreamt of flight
and bade them:
make your chrysalis here.
Silken integument stretched over the bones,
those anchors of flesh.
The little weavers bound the puppet.
its writhing entrails.
She poured trees' tears on the shroud
as it closed.
The skin drank deep. The threads shone sticky.
She bathed the knitting flesh.
The hare thumped its leg,
and the blood-sap danced
along the limbs.
The hare shrieked,
and the ribs swelled.
Featureless and white,
the form twitched in the firelight,
swelled like a bloating corpse
only to sighing sink back
to its shallow grave again.
The mother of sculpture
plunged her hands into the fire.
She buried her fingers in burning embers.
The forest-bane's tongues lapped at her hands,
it rippled around them
like a lake of light.
She dug to its white-ash heart.
Her gritty hands were fire-stained,
her fingers dark with char,
her palms velvet with ash.
She touched her hands to the flesh,
dark heat to limpid unlife.
The touch of her hands left streaking shadows.
Where her whorls pressed
the flesh seared,
Digging in her thumbs she sculpted.
Chest and chin,
hip and heel.
Tunneling her fingers she bored.
Ear and nose.
Between brow and cheek she clawed,
her hands' sharp knives rending
a pair of sinkholes.
Between nose and chin she clawed,
wrenched and pulled open
a ragged cavern.
From the night-smoke she called
the flittering shadows,
whispering moths and shrieking bats
to roost in the infantile cave.
It echoed with beast-sound.
She took the fire into her two hands.
She held it blood-hot in her fists.
Each fist she closed, like a lantern
she shuttered it.
She held the fire and squeezed it
into two ember topazes.
From her palms she pressed the stones
that glittered with made-light
to the face of her creation.
She embedded them in each deep sinkhole,
burnt out skull-bone windows,
and gave it gaze.
As a thunderbolt she called: "Arise!"
"Rise, sky-seedling, sap-blooded,
bone-child of the earth.
Rise, hare-heart and worm-gut,
moth-breathed and ash-streaked,
Rise, you of burning eyes
and shadow voices."
Up from the dead winter ground it gathered itself,
in halting asymmetry.
Its heavy head rolled
as the mists and smoke inside coalesced.
It scrabbled against the sod
with its blunt horn claws.
Like an old tree it rose out
of its twin trunks.
It chewed its stone teeth.
"Mother. I rise."