This poem was inspired by a comment left by siege under the poem "Hit or Missile." It is reposted here as the linkback perk poem for the January 8, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl, originally appearing in a post by dreamwriters. It belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis.
All 23 verses are now posted. You can reveal the remaining verses by linking to the unsold poetry list for January. The linkers include: dreamwriters, janetmiles, siliconshaman, rix_scaedu, thesilentpoet, the_vulture, wyld_dandelyon, technoshaman nd mdlbear. Thank you all for your support!
Gods did not sleep
in the same way that mortals slept,
but in the mortal world they meditated
to refresh their minds and power.
Snuffling groans from Trobby's bed
pulled Shaeth out of his contemplations.
Shaeth wandered over to check on his priest and,
without really thinking about it, brushed a hand
through the cobweb imagery of his dreams.
Tired woman nursing a beer instead of her son.
Big man with a belt and a bottle of rum in his beefy hands.
Little Trobby with not enough clothes and a growl in his belly,
red on one shoulder leaking through his thin shirt.
Older Trobby scuffling from village to village,
taking odd jobs or begging to make his way.
Feelings that cut like broken glass.
Shaeth yanked his hand back,
rubbing thumb and fingers together
as if expecting to find blood.
Trobby snuffled again in his sleep,
shifting against the cheap mattress.
His nightshirt tangled around him, then loosened,
baring the base of his neck.
Shaeth wondered if the images
had been real, or merely nightmares,
dragging Trobby through sleep
as soothing as a thornbrake.
Shaeth tugged the nightshirt down a bit,
and there was the same mark
twisting over Trobby's collarbone,
faded to a smear of cream
against the weathered tan of his skin.
Trobby gave a hiccupping whimper.
Well this obviously wasn't restful.
"Trobby, wake up," Shaeth said,
giving the nearest shoulder a brisk shake.
Perhaps he could teach the priest to meditate.
Trobby woke, jolting under Shaeth's grasp.
He scrubbed a hand over his face,
then said blearily, "Why're we up?
S'not even false dawn yet."
"You had a nightmare," Shaeth said.
"You were making noises, so I woke you up."
"Oh," said Trobby. "Thanks, I guess.
Usually folks just throw boots."
Shaeth's brows snapped down
over his dark eyes.
"I can't imagine that helping,"
he said sharply.
"Wakes me up," Trobby said.
Shaeth sighed then.
"Considering the content of your dreams,
I suppose even a boot to the head
might be welcome," he said.
Trobby looked at him.
"How would you know?"
"When I touched you earlier,
I saw what you saw," Shaeth admitted,
hiding a wince because he was sure
that there would be accusations and complaints.
"Sorry," Trobby said. "Next time, use a boot."
"You are not angry at me
for stealing your secrets?"
Shaeth asked him.
"People so often are, you know,
and I rarely remember that until after."
Trobby laughed, a little wild,
then shook his head.
"I got no secrets," he said.
"Everybody up and down this road
knows how much mischief my family got into.
Hard to miss the stories."
Shaeth knew what it was like
to have no secrets,
for everyone knew what he had been.
God of Evil or no, Trobby's past
still pricked at him like splinters.
Belt and bottle and yelling.
Bare feet in the yellow dust of the streets.
Shaeth wondered how hard it would be
to track down Trobby's parents in the nether hells
and have a little chat with them.
It would almost have been easier,
Shaeth realized with a shock,
if Trobby had snapped at him
for reading dreams uninvited.
Shaeth wanted to be accepted
for having learned to be Good,
not just because someone
couldn't be bothered to scold him.
Shaeth thought back to the easy acceptance
that Trobby had offered when they first met,
rolling with whatever came their way.
But it wasn't really acceptance, was it?
It was resignation, born of lifelong experience
that nothing better was likely to come along
and escape was impossible.
"No," said Shaeth.
"Next time, I won't use a boot,
and I will wake you up sooner."
"Then I'll never get any sleep,"
"Sit up, my little priest,"
Shaeth said to him.
"Let me teach you about meditation."