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Poem: "The Jewel and the Key" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Jewel and the Key"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by marina_bonomi.  It continues the adventures of the Origami Mage and her rival.


The Jewel and the Key


origami mage
approaches as a pilgrim
up the torii  road
where black and vermilion gates
line the pathway to the shrine

she brings offerings
of fresh inari-zushi
and heady sake
to set before the statues
in the shrine of Inari

the god of foxes
laughs at the solemn maiden
making her slow way
through the greedy kitsune
guarding their magic treasures

the jewel and the key
the sheaf of rice and the scroll
even the fox cub
are held in their patient mouths
all waiting to be bestowed

origami mage
bows before the trickster-god
his nine tails flicking
his red ears perked to her prayers
his eyes on her folded hands

"what do you seek here?"
Inari asks the pilgrim
"whatever you give,"
origami mage replies
Inari licks his whiskers

"you may choose your gifts,"
says the god of the foxes
origami mage
takes the jewel of resources
and the key of safe passage

"why not choose wisdom?"
Inari points to the scroll
"why not sustenance,
the sheaf of rice; or family,
the fox cub?" asks Inari

origami mage
bows to the god of foxes
"kirigami mage,
my rival, follows behind --
she needs them more than I do"

with an ivory grin 
Inari places her gifts
in her waiting hands
she folds a red paper fox
and watches it trot away

on the pathway to 
enlightenment, every step
becomes a threshold
through which each attachment is
banished, one piece at a time

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15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: November 3rd, 2010 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure I get this on first read, but I like it nonetheless.

I liked she folds a red paper fox
and watches it trot away
for the image it made in my mind.
siege From: siege Date: November 3rd, 2010 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
That particular verse created multiple images in my mind, because Inari is known in various genders.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: November 3rd, 2010 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I rather like this one. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 3rd, 2010 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad to hear that. Inari is a favorite, so when I saw that Inari shrines often have a lot of torii gates, I couldn't resist writing in this direction.
eseme From: eseme Date: November 3rd, 2010 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I do enjoy the origami mage. The one image I had trouble with was the kitsune. I could not tell if they were statues or living beings.

The mage is kind to her rival, which I rather like.

Also, I think there are closing and opening quotes missing here:

"why not choose wisdom?"
Inari points to the scroll
"why not sustenance,
the sheaf of rice; or family,
the fox cub?" asks Inari


Should it be?

"why not choose wisdom?"
Inari points to the scroll
"why not sustenance,"
the sheaf of rice; "or family?"
the fox cub, asks Inari

I thought the objects were listing what Inari was pointing to.

Edits because the HTML was not working

Edited at 2010-11-03 02:33 am (UTC)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: November 3rd, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the fox cub is one of the objects that the origami mage can pick?

(But Jewel of Resources is sufficiently broad and vague that it seems like it ought to trump sustenance.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I think the fox cub is one of the objects that the origami mage can pick?<<

Correct. Jewel, key, scroll, rice sheaf, and fox cub are the symbols held by the kitsune statues. Those are traditional at Inari shrines.

>> (But Jewel of Resources is sufficiently broad and vague that it seems like it ought to trump sustenance.) <<

A jewel represents wealth, goods, tools, etc. It's not edible, although wealth can buy food or tools could grow it. Rice is the symbol of food and life.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I do enjoy the origami mage.<<

Yay!

>> The one image I had trouble with was the kitsune. I could not tell if they were statues or living beings. <<

Statues, but also spirits. Kitsune are fox spirits or fox people, very mischievous and magical.

>>The mage is kind to her rival, which I rather like.<<

Yes, the Origami Mage practices compassion and nonviolence. It irritates the Kirigami Mage.

>>Also, I think there are closing and opening quotes missing here:<<

No, it's written correctly -- the later descriptions are part of the speech.

eseme From: eseme Date: November 8th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Wait, it is actually saying "the sheaf of rice" and "the fox cob"? That's odd, for speech.

I do enjoy the Origami Mage's approach to things.
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: November 4th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the choices the origami mage makes, and the reason she gives. And there's some great imagery here!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad this works for you. (That reason is really going to tick off the Kirigami Mage, though.) I like to show characterization through actions. You learn about who the Origami Mage is by what she does.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 4th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yes! °huge grin on my face°

'Solemn maiden' is so her... and Inari's 'Ivory grin', body language and curiosity.

I also love the subtle irony of "she needs them more than I do", it's complex here: the origami mage is not greedy, takes just what she needs, and knows her rival fairy well. She's not boasting, simply telling the truth, but the whole reads like a private joke between her and Inari (hence the grin) and the last stanza is the perfect commentary.

These last two pieces in the series are awesome, Elizabeth.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>> Oh, yes! °huge grin on my face° <<

I'm glad you like this so much.

>> 'Solemn maiden' is so her... and Inari's 'Ivory grin', body language and curiosity. <<

Inari is a favorite of mine; I love foxes and fox deities. The more I write about the Origami Mage, the more I learn who she is and what she's like. She reminds me of the quiet, graceful goddesses such as Kuan Yin, Nu Kua, Sarasvati, and Yuki-Onna.

>>I also love the subtle irony of "she needs them more than I do", it's complex here: the origami mage is not greedy, takes just what she needs, and knows her rival fairy well. She's not boasting, simply telling the truth, but the whole reads like a private joke between her and Inari (hence the grin) and the last stanza is the perfect commentary.<<

Sooth. She has a sense of humor, but it's more implied than explicit. She and the Kirigami Mage are opposites in many ways, even though they come from a similar background, so I'm looking for ways to play up that dichotomy. I'm also starting to watch for opportunities to slip in quotes from traditional sources, since quoting the classics is part of oriental literature in general; hence the commentary verse.

>>These last two pieces in the series are awesome, Elizabeth.<<

*frisk, caper, grin*

Oh, and if you haven't seen the note, I've asked djinni to create an icon of the Kirigami Mage, as a match to the Origami Mage icon. He's doing another Free Icon Day. *anticipatory wriggle* This will be fun.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 4th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I've seen the note,it will be great (joins in anticipatory wriggle) :-).

I really like how you visualize the kirigami mage, I don't know quite how, but she reminds me of the archetipal 'concubine turned empress': powerful, ambitious and cunning, but also unsure of herself due to (perceived or real) social disvantage and because of that often bitter or jealous.

As I told you, I see the Origami mage only from the back, willowy and graceful and garbed in ancient fashion, maybe like these Five Dinasties musicians http://arts.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/upload/3%2816%29.jpg
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 5th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

>>I really like how you visualize the kirigami mage, I don't know quite how, but she reminds me of the archetipal 'concubine turned empress': powerful, ambitious and cunning, but also unsure of herself due to (perceived or real) social disvantage and because of that often bitter or jealous.<<

She is certainly ambitious and cunning. Powerful ... well, she can do a lot of stuff, but I don't think she is using her magic to its full potential. It's more force than finesse. The Origami Mage has the power to do a great deal, but she's a lot more conservative with it, using only the minimum required to meet a need. They move differently too: the Kirigami mage has a sharper, almost jerky motion whereas the Origami Mage is more fluid. Bitter and jealous certainly fit; I haven't figured out all the social context yet, but I know that the Kirigami Mage feels like people just don't understand her.

>>As I told you, I see the Origami mage only from the back, willowy and graceful and garbed in ancient fashion, maybe like these Five Dinasties musicians <<

Ooo ... I like that style. It's clearly Asian but not so fussy as to be impractical for everyday use. Thank you for sharing!
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