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Poem: "Purity" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Purity"

Written between fishbowls, somewhat inspired by continuing discussions, this epic poem belongs to the Path of the Paladins series.  I'm posting it verse-by-verse in exchange for linkbacks to the August 2, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  Linklove by: aldersprig, janetmiles, meeksp, marina_bonomi, minor_architect, kyleri, siliconshaman, siege, the_vulture, eseme.

Woohoo, we did it! The whole poem has been posted.


Purity


Shahana sighed
and stepped back from the pool.
"Not fit to drink," she declared
with a shake of her head.
"Someone must have tainted it."
The skeleton of a hapless bird
crunched beneath her boot.

"We're out of water,"
Ari said, gazing up at the sky
where the sun burned bronze
against a smooth blue dome.
"Can't you ... clean it, somehow?"

Purification was a simple spell.
A novice could have cast it.
Shahana knew how to do it,
had known for decades.
Energy was dear in these days, though,
for paladins of a deposed goddess.
Fortunately, Shahana knew other ways.

"I saw sign of unicorns earlier,"
Shahana said to Ari,
"We'll double back and find them."
"I didn't see any sign,"
Ari said, dragging her feet.
"I'll show you where,"
Shahana promised.
When they came to the place,
she pointed to a damp spot by the trail
where a single heart-shaped hoofprint
held a thin film of water
that glistened, ever so faintly,
in the shadows under the ferns.

They found the small herd of unicorns
grazing in a wide meadow of flower-flecked grass
where a fire had swept away part of the forest.
Slim heads raised at once,
shy and graceful as deer,
and the unicorns trotted swiftly out of view.

Shahana seated herself on an old, charred log.
"Come, make yourself comfortable,"
she said, patting the wide surface.
"They won't come to me anymore,"
Ari said, her voice dull. "You saw."
Shahana draped an arm around the girl
and pulled her close, folding her gently into place.
"Sit down, Ari," she said. "Quiet your mind."
"This won't work. They're already gone,"
Ari grumbled. Hands picked at a loose thread.
"They will come back," Shahana said.
"Unicorns are not attracted to purity of the flesh,
but to purity of the spirit." She plucked away
the errant thread and folded Ari's hands together.
"You might try the Tranquility Prayer."

Ari took a deep breath
and sat up straighter on the log.
"The peace of Gailah is the peace of the moon
shining upon the still surface of a pool.
It is smooth and clear as the face of a mirror,
and all that you see within it is true.
Let our bodies be as a hollow of clay,
filled with the quick silver liquid of our souls,
and may -- and may --"
Ari's recitation stumbled to a halt.

"May the peace of Gailah shine upon us,
through the pure clean water of our spirits,
and come to rest in the vessel of our flesh
that we may pour it forth for those in need,"
Shahana finished smoothly
as she watched the unicorns draw near.
A grizzled mare touched her muzzle
to the paladin's armored knee,
nearly the same color as the steel itself,
her hide dappled with silver and pewter and black
like the rippled markings on a master's sword.
Shahana lifted her hand to stroke the offered mane,
carefully saving the long hairs that came free.

Ari gasped in surprise.
The roan shied away, then crept close again,
sleek coat shining the red-gold of sunrise.
The girl's fingers trembled
as she touched the ruddy tresses,
winding the loose strands with familiar skill.
Then came the young stallion with the star-white coat,
his pearly horn snapped off a handspan above his forehead.
He laid his chin across her legs and wept luminous tears.

"Catch that!" Shahana said,
hastily grabbing her battered tin cup.
Ari followed suit, unhooking her own,
and together they collected a few fulgent drops.
When the unicorn lifted his head, two damp white spots
remained on the drab blue of her dress.

The unicorns followed them willingly enough
to where the tainted pool spread itself beneath the hot sun.
The lead mare gravely regarded it from the bank,
then knelt to set her steely horn against the surface.
The tip touched down once, twice, a dozen times
in a meticulous pattern that left intricate ripples
spreading out into the distance.
Slowly the turbid water cleared.
The unicorns drank their fill, then disappeared
into the welcoming shadows of the forest.

The two women filled their canteens,
save the one where they transferred the precious tears.
"The next town has a Hall of Healing
where we can trade what we've gathered,"
Shahana said as she counted out the gray mare's hairs.
"May I send some of these to my brother?"
Ari asked, fingering the red-gold strands.
"Of course," said Shahana.
"Remember the Prayer of Tranquility?
All graces are meant to be shared."

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

37 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 2nd, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I'm helping! :-)

(Also, want moar.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Linklove is pouring in -- there are 6 verses now so we're halfway done.

Zowie. This perk is working like a draft horse.
From: minor_architect Date: August 2nd, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just linked to the Fishbowl! You can see it in my Twitter history: http://twitter.com/#!/miladylibrary :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your verse is posted.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

See the new verse.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Linked the fishbowl from my LJ and from my FetLife account, but that one's blocked unless you have an account there.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

W00T!

Double-tap center mass. See two new verses.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
and oh! Yes! *bounce* PLEASED!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that. "MOAR PLZ!" is always exciting feedback.
From: siliconshaman Date: August 2nd, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Linked

and cross posted to LJ too.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Another double-tap, and your verses are online.
kyleri From: kyleri Date: August 2nd, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Linked from my twitter!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your verse is up. Just three more left to reveal!
siege From: siege Date: August 2nd, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have posted your verse. We're down to the last two!
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 2nd, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

Your verse is posted, and that brings us down to the last one. Woohoo!

Thank you for your support.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 2nd, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really looking forward to seeing where this is going.
eseme From: eseme Date: August 3rd, 2011 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Linkage!

(though my journal does not get lots of traffic)

http://eseme.livejournal.com/209573.html
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2011 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

And with this, the poem is complete! Thank you for your support.
viva_la_topknot From: viva_la_topknot Date: August 3rd, 2011 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)

I've posted a link here. http://viva-la-topknot.livejournal.com/50008.html

Hope I did that right, I would love to read more of this!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I appreciate the linkage.

This is actually the end of "Purity." There will doubtless be more poetry in the Paths of the Paladins series, though.
eseme From: eseme Date: August 3rd, 2011 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow, I do like that poem. There is a lot of healing there, not just the pond. A story that definitely needed to be told.

I like the prayer too, the the many colors of the unicorns.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

That's good to hear.

>>There is a lot of healing there, not just the pond.<<

I like how Shahana has learned other ways of getting the job done besides flinging bountiful heaps of magic at it, now that she has only a modest amount available personally. So I'm watching for opportunities to show that.

>> A story that definitely needed to be told.<<

Sooth. That's the core of Path of the Paladins.

>>I like the prayer too, the the many colors of the unicorns.<<

Gailah has some interesting liturgy. There's another example in "The Canticle of Days," though it's far more practical.
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: August 4th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)

The Tranquility Prayer

I shared some thoughts on this prayer in verbal conversation with Elizabeth, and she encouraged me to pass them along to the rest of you as a comment here.

This prayer reminds me of a couple of prayers from the Baha'i Faith: one that exists strictly as an oral tradition, the other from the actual writings of the founder of the Faith.

The "Hollow Reed" prayer is the one from oral tradition: "O Lord, make me as a hollow reed, from which the pith of self hath been blown, that I may be a clear channel through which Thy love may flow to others." This one was adapted into a song by Seals & Crofts on one of their first albums in the early 70's.

The second is an excerpt from a longer prayer, which appears in the compilation "Prayers and Meditations" by Baha'u'llah: "If it be Thy pleasure, make me to grow as a tender herb in the meadows of Thy grace, that the gentle winds of Thy will may stir me up and bend me into conformity with Thy pleasure, in such wise that my movement and my stillness may be wholly directed by Thee."

I'd asked Elizabeth whether the Tranquility Prayer had been inspired by either of those; she recalled having heard "Hollow Reed", but hadn't consciously used either as her inspirational source.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: The Tranquility Prayer

Thank you -- I appreciate it when people add to a discussion like this.
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