Shadow Love

I see it standing there

at the

bottom

of my life

like a

snarling wolf

at the

base of a ladder

 

This amorphous shadow,

Shifting, shining stars

contained in

incorporeal limbs.

 

I remember when

they reached for me

and held me close,

One hand on my eyes,

the other on my throat

so I would not see it

was killing me,

as it sang

death’s lullaby

so sweetly

in my ear

so I couldn’t feel

my life ebbing.

 

But I grew too heavy

with sorrow

to carry,

and it set me down.

 

Gorged on my misery,

it could not pursue.

And when I returned

to the sunlight

it fled.

 

I remember it,

not fondly.

And these days,

not long.

 

But I can still

feel its eyes

boring into me,

And it waits,

black and coiled

round the cold scraps

of what it once prized.

 

Wanting me back

even as it moves on

to claim

new souls

to suck.

Clear as Dark Glass

In the window

at dawn

you used the light

to wink at me.

I came to the window

to admire you

and assess what it would mean

to possess you.

And now inside,

I hold you,

and see that you are etched

with life’s hieroglyphs.

They are a riddle,

and you are a puzzle.

‘I know you,’ I say,

holding your dusky essence,

turning you in my hands.

I hold you up to the light

and look through dark glass,

seeing clearly where I would come to rest

in tortured love sublime.

3 a.m.

At 3 a.m.

they come to play,

disturb your sleep,

disrupt your day.

 

They sing and giggle

out of sight.

They cry and cut you

through the night.

 

“They don’t exist!”

the people say.

The creatures like it

just that way.

 

Their smiles malignant,

gleaming white,

‘Your blood so red,

it tastes so right.’

 

And in the sunrise,

glowing gold,

your heart is still.

Your flesh is cold.

 

At 3 a.m.

they come to play,

cavort, and

steal your soul away.

Darkling Water

Down by the river,

she runs through

the night.

 

Shade alabaster.

Shrouded moonlight.

 

Some rich man’s wife.

Some farmer’s daughter.

Some say she haunts

by the

Darkling Water.

 

Some say they’ve

seen her

run through the trees.

 

Some say she cries out

with keening and pleas.

 

Some say her pale hands

are dripping with blood.

Some say she’s lying so still

in the mud.

 

No name is given.

No questions asked.

Sitting on mossy stones,

in moonlight basked.

 

Chills when she looks at you,

grasps at your sleeves.

Crying, she clutches you.

Spectral heart grieves.

 

There’s no escaping now.

With her you go,

caught in the current’s

ethereal flow.

 

Some rich man’s wife.

Some farmer’s daughter.

Some say she haunts

by the Darkling Water.

 

The Mark

The Mark

Chapter 1:  Foundling:

A gibbous moon pressed down on the sky like the thumb pad of a jaundiced god. A ragtag band of villagers chased a boy into a forest clearing, surrounding him, but not rushing to seize him.

He felt every inch the trapped animal, save he had no claws or teeth. There was only a single knife which he clutched more as a talisman than a weapon. Crackling torches forced him to put up a hand to block the glare, and the mark on his cheek became visible again.

Murmurs of curses, prayers, and amazement buzzed and hummed in his ears. The light in the mark was fading but he could still feel its heat.

An elder couple stepped forward as a walking keg of a man thrust his torch closer to the boy’s face, making him drop the knife as he stepped back and put up his other hand. From what he briefly saw of them, the woman seemed to hold some concern for him, lightly pressing her husband’s wrist down to lower the torch; she wouldn’t stop him from doing much else, but for that at least, the boy was grateful.

Walking Keg had bristly brown and gray whiskers, the moonlight a nimbus in them as he leaned forward and glowered, his free hand poised in the air, uncertain of its purpose. He seemed to want to touch the mark, but didn’t.

The fear in his eyes belied the gruffness in his voice. “How came you by this mark, boy?” The uncertain hand now pointed a meaty finger at the mark.

The boy swallowed, and when he spoke his voice was small in his own ears. “I killed my little sister.”

*************

Thunder had ever frightened him, and this storm had proven no different. In the small cottage at the top of the hill, where he lived with his parents and younger sister, they were more vulnerable than most to lightning strikes.

Seeking his parents for comfort as he always did, the tableau he walked in on shook him to his core with horror.

      His little sister was out in the rain, naked, arms outstretched to the sky, eyes closed and a beatific smile on her face. She seemed to be speaking, or praying; he wasn’t sure, but she had a knife in her hand with blood and rainwater dripping from it, washing the blade clean.       Stomach lurching, heart pounding, he ran toward his parents’ bedroom but stopped when he saw the small, bloody footprints that lead from the open door.

      “Nylii, what have you done?” He ran from the house toward his sister, and when he came to she was dead beneath him, his hands on her throat, his cheek sliced open from the knife, and the clouds clearing to reveal the dim light of a sickle moon. Her eyes were open, and save for the fact she wasn’t breathing, she looked like she was about to tell him a secret.

      Revulsion and horror made him scramble up and make it to the edge of the wet, dank woods as he heaved up the contents of their last dinner. Gasping for air, burning with thirst and wanting to scream, he wiped the stringy, rank spit away with a handful of leaves. His cheek was on fire, and there was blood on his chest and shoulder. He touched the wound to see how bad it was, and it flared, searing under his touch.

      He opened his mouth, but the ensuing pain had him back on the ground unable to scream. He felt something go wrong with his blood.

      She’d cursed him, marked him. For what, the gods only knew.

     “Nylii, what have you done? What have you done?” He realized he was shouting. Panicking, leaving the bodies for scavengers, he ran and never looked back.

                                                 ************

     More murmurs, louder this time as what he said was conveyed to those who couldn’t hear. He’d played whisper-down- the-line with his friends; he’d be a legend or a monster by the time it got to them.

      The couple stepped back.

     “She was afflicted?” the woman asked.

    He wasn’t sure what ‘afflicted’ meant, but he nodded: “She killed our parents at Reaving Moon. A blood sacrifice.”

      Cries and gestures against evil rippled outward through the mob.

     “What should we do?” the woman asked her husband.

      “Kill him, is what we should do…”

      The boy was tired, thirsty, hungry, and his adrenaline from running had spiked and dipped several times. Now he was just scared and angry.

       “I’ve done no harm to you! You came after me!”

        The husband glared and stepped closer. “Yer damn scar was shinin’! We din’t know what the hell ye were!”

       The woman spoke again. “We’ve children in th’ village, boy. Not much older n’ yew. Y’understand?”

      The boy fell to his knees. “I beg you, for one night, let me sleep. I’ll sleep here, outside of your town, and I won’t come in. I promise. Please just go. I’ll be gone in the morning.”  

      After some hesitation, the wife took the husband aside, away from him and the crowd. He stayed on his knees; the weight of the rabble’s stare was almost palpable as they openly regarded him with an unhealthy mix of fear and fascination. The couple’s conversation, judging from gestures and faces, was brief but heated.

 Read more at the link below on Niume. 

Source: The Mark

Maker

They say nights are quiet, silent even, but that really isn’t so.

It makes noises of its own.

Even the seemingly silent glide of the hunting owl whistles keen as wings slice wind, and prey screams before talons crack it open, spilling red life like the contents of a leaky whiskey barrel.

A late autumn cricket chirped in vain, born too late for mating. It too, will freeze and die in the cooling mornings, no progeny for spring.

I stared at the wheeling moon and stars, thinking I would stay here.

Believing I could.

I’ll leave tomorrow.

The chilled wind seized and shattered my breath’s vapor as it floated through the air.

My worn cloak had thinned into little more than a long rag full of holes where the cold poked at my legs like children’s fingers.

I took a look around the cemetery; everyone I knew was here.

Did they know that I was among them?

Could they hear my heart, see my breath, and hear the lonely cricket’s solo above the blowing, rustling leaves clattering against the tilted, faded headstones?

Did their wandering ghosts find it as beautiful as I did?

I shuddered in anticipation of the change to come when I heard the voice behind me, as if the very air itself had spoken:

“Are you ready?”

The anticipation turned to fright, the fright to something I couldn’t name.

The stink of him was overwhelming; his beauty, unparalleled by anything I could name.

No doubt he knew what I thought already; he let me fall into the power of his silent, evil presence, quiet and feral, an old snake full of intelligent insanity.

I used the headstone I’d sat against to pull myself up, not trusting my legs, then brushed off what autumn detritus didn’t fall on its own, as if appearance mattered now.    I wanted to run screaming, to call him vile things, to spit in his bloody face after I beheaded him.

As he watched me struggle with myself, I sensed his patience start to crumble before the slow rise of his anger.

“Are you sure?”

His low, deep voice pierced my ears, a nail coated in honey, lethal and sweet, challenging me to defy him, laced with desire to punish me if I did.

In the silence of my trembling, looking into the jade and gold of his gleaming eyes, the tatters of my will fell to the cold, hard ground along with my bedraggled cloak.

It slipped from my shoulders, the cares of this world trapped in its filthy folds.

“Yes.”

He held out his hand

I went to him.