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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "A Night More Full"

This is a followup to the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  The donations met the $150 threshold, activating the perk for an extra serial poem.  An audience poll decided on Shahana the Paladin (introduced in "Shine On") as the series.  Enthusiastic donors then provided me with a very tidy stack of prompts, which I turned into three poems.  Finally, the donors voted on which one to publish, "A Night More Full," posted below for your enjoyment.  This poem was prompted by morrigans_eve, janetmiles, laffingkat, the_vulture, and marina_bonomi; and Anonymous.

I have updated the serial poetry page; look under "Path of the Paladins" to see the complete list of poems in this series.  Also available for sponsorship are these two:

"The Canticle of Days" -- 106 lines, Buy It Now = $53
This poem reveals a bit about Shahana's history and training, and what she's doing with Ari now.  It also includes the Canticle of the Traveler -- which is written in rhymed, metered couplets -- tucked inside the free verse poem.

"To the Five Roads" -- 155 lines, $77.50
Shahana and Ari pause in their travels to restore an abandoned roadside shrine. This poem reveals a little more about Shahana's past, how she became a paladin and what she did.


A Night More Full


Shahana lay on her back,
looking up at the stars
scattered like clear gems
on the sky's black cloak.
She had put off her armor,
and now her plain linen clothes
were getting damp with dew.
She didn't care.
The night seemed far more full
of darkness than stars.

Shahana missed her goddess
with a deep, fierce ache:
not the power that Gailah granted,
but the person, the shining Lady
that Shahana served.

The paladin cleared her mind
and turned her thoughts to prayer,
lofted toward a distant heaven:
I know You can hear me, my Lady.
I just miss hearing Your voice in return.
I miss seeing Your face in my dreams,
or in the bright temple
where my world meets Yours. 
I miss Your touch
.

These days, the contact between them
was far more limited, because
goddess and paladins alike had to hoard
what power they could gather
for when it would be needed the most.
Shahana could still feel Gailah's presence
in her heart, warm as a banked hearthfire,
but the goddess' directives came now
as hints and intuition rather than words.
Her touch came as a kiss of wind
or a beam of sun, not the embrace
of long arms and white-fingered hands.

Shahana shifted to loyalty and gratitude,
renewing pledges made long ago.
My Lady, I want You to know
that I will never leave You.
I will do Your work in this world.
I will attend to matters of purity,
mercy, and protection.
I cherish what magic remains to me.
I give thanks that You stand by us
who chose to stand by You
.

Shahana could not help but recall
her outrage at the gall of the war-priests
and the arrogance of Gorrein
in declaring war on his own sister.
But a pantheon was a pot of politics,
as much as any court in the land,
and so the campaign went forth.

Shahana had fought valiantly,
but by the time her unit reached the city,
the last battle was over and done.
She arrived to find nothing but rubble
left of the bright temple,
and the sobbing bloody goddess
crouched beside the altar,
and a scatter of shocked paladins
standing around staring.
One of them had walked away
even as Shahana approached.
Others might desert in such a time,
but it was not in her to do the same.

It had been Shahana who stepped forward,
snapping the white velvet cloak from her shoulders
to cover Gailah in the warm fragrant folds.
"Oh, my Lady, we will never leave You," she swore,
and that stirred the others to action.
The remaining paladins drew near
and knelt to renew their vows.
"Go back to Your heavenly realm
and seek a safe place there,"
Shahana said to Gailah.
"We will hide ourselves in this world
until we grow strong enough to rebuild."

Now Shahana sighed, stargazing,
praying her heart out to a distant goddess.
Sometimes she could keep these memories
tucked away in a trunk, deep in her mind --
but on nights like tonight they spilled forth
to trouble her all over again.

My Lady, let it be enough for you
that my faith remains as bright as the Guidestar,
Shahana prayed, stroking the damp grass.
Whatsoever power is left to me,
I will put to use as best I can.
Whatsoever is given into my care,
I will tend to the best of my ability
.

"Shahana?  Are you still out here?"
Ari's girlish voice floated up the hill.

"I am here," said Shahana.
Ari hiked up the shallow slope to her.
"The soup is ready," said Ari.
"Come and eat, Shahana."

"Coming," said Shahana.
Ari brushed at the dew-wet clothes.
"You'll catch cold like that," she fussed,
and wrapped her shabby cloak
around Shahana's shoulders.

As they turned toward their camp,
the breeze rose, stirring the grass
and brushing Shahana's hair from her face.
Almost it reminded her of Gailah,
but no, surely it was only the wind --
even such ghostly caresses were rare now.

"What was that?" Ari asked,
wide-eyed and breathless.

Shahana stretched out her awareness,
and there, glimmering like starlight on water,
was the faint sense of her goddess.
Pulling the younger woman close, she said,
"Such is Gailah's grace upon us in these days.
She touches us as She may, and we give thanks."

Together they walked down the hill
toward the camp and the fire and supper,
and now the night seemed
more full of stars than darkness.

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Current Mood: busy busy

23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
eseme From: eseme Date: July 13th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Endings. Your endings are excellent. I love this one.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 13th, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

This makes me happy. I love a good ending that ties things up neatly.

If you look closely, you'll see that this poem has a "mirror" frame on it. That's a favorite motif. Something at the beginning is repeated and reversed for the ending. This series is really about opposites and contrasts, the light and the dark together. And this poem is about whether and how you focus on the light, or the darkness.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: July 14th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I had noticed that and was about to comment until I saw this. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Well, foo. I guess I should've waited. I'm often torn between responding to comments, as a way of encouraging activity, vs. waiting to see what people will say on their own.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: July 14th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

We're a bright lot; I'm sure we can be allowed a little time to spot things on our own and share the joy of our discovery with you. ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

True. I have a wonderful audience.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: July 14th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I rather like the parallel between Shahana wrapping her cloak around the fallen Goddess and Ari wrapping her cloak around Shahana. Each, in action, demonstrates her commitment to the other.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

*grin* I was hoping someone would catch that. Yes, it's a deliberate parallel. I do things like this in fiction, sometimes, but the connection is often tighter in poetry where there's a very specific lineup of related actions or phrases.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: July 14th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

It's an interesting technique to use. :)
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: July 14th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely. And reminds me of one of the better episodes of Xena.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Oh, lovely. <<

I'm glad you like it.

>> And reminds me of one of the better episodes of Xena.<<

Okaaayyy ... I'm a bit lost there. Older woman, younger woman, sword; deities in the background. Beyond that I'm not seeing much similarity. What made you think of Xena?
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: July 14th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Well, there's that, and there was an episode (or two) where they were talking and bonding under the stars...even where Xena was off to one side and Gabrielle brought her back from her reverie.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Now it makes much more sense. I don't think I've seen those episodes, though, just assorted combat scenes. Sexy women in leather, mmm. But that's not this-here series. ;)
From: minor_architect Date: July 14th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
This is such a deeply moving poem...and I must admit, a rather hard read for me. It touches on matters of forgotten faith (as opposed to lost entirely), which is something I must address in my own life soon. Perhaps this poem came at exactly the right time.

In any case, now I have a million questions about this world's pantheon of gods and how their realms interconnect - but I'll save those for another Fishbowl. ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> This is such a deeply moving poem <<

I'm glad you found it so.

>>...and I must admit, a rather hard read for me.<<

Yeah, this whole series is not easy reading. Some of what I write is lighthearted, but some is quite a bit deeper and/or darker.

>> It touches on matters of forgotten faith (as opposed to lost entirely), which is something I must address in my own life soon. Perhaps this poem came at exactly the right time. <<

I've noticed that my poems do that sometimes. Every once in a while, I'll be reading along through my f'list and one of my poems will decide to go visiting, so I send it off. And it's usually the right message at the right time.

If you need a shoulder, I'm available. Talking about spirituality is familiar territory for me.

>>In any case, now I have a million questions about this world's pantheon of gods and how their realms interconnect - but I'll save those for another Fishbowl.<<

*glee* Oh, write them down so you don't forget! I really want to see those prompts.
From: minor_architect Date: July 14th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll send you a private message about the whole "forgotten" faith conundrum, so you'll have an idea of what I've been wrestling with. I apologize in advance for any rambling or incoherencies. ;)

(I'm at work now, though, so the writing may take some time.)

Thanks.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Okay...

At your convenience, then.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: July 14th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, and my username is soooo BAAAAAAD... XD
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 15th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Wow!

I'm glad that this touched you. I really appreciate the feedback.
whuffle From: whuffle Date: July 14th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
*looks completely thunderstruck*

In conjunction with some of the things going on in my personal life right now, this REALLY hit home.

Thank you so very much for sharing your art with us all.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 14th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

*hugs*

>> In conjunction with some of the things going on in my personal life right now, this REALLY hit home. <<

I'm glad that this poem held so much meaning for you. I wish you luck getting through your own stuff.

>> Thank you so very much for sharing your art with us all. <<

You're welcome. This batch was really, really prompt-driven though; I just went where the donor-folks pointed. There seems to be quite a confluence of interest for this series.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: April 12th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
This made me wonder what makes a goddess a goddess, and not just a regular person.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 13th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I got a new poem out of this, "Supernal Nature."

Edited at 2012-08-24 09:45 pm (UTC)
23 comments or Leave a comment