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

This poem came out of the March 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from wyld_dandelyon and mdlbear.  It also fills the "fragile" square in my 1-31-14 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to The Steamsmith series.



Clockwyrms

Maryam found them
while out searching for supplies
to support her latest project,
making tiny alchemical lanterns.

The little shop sold mostly clocks
but it also had an assortment of clockwork
and even a few steamwork items.

It was the dragons
which captured her attention.
There were twelve of them,
several in the display window
and more on the shelves inside.

Some of them were metal --
gold, silver, and copper --
while others were done up
in lacquer or enamel
of various bold colors.

There was a vivid crimson,
a royal blue and a royal purple,
even one in an improbable shade
of rosepetal pink.

Most had wings,
dainty translucent things
the size of handkerchiefs,
but there were clockwyrms too,
slender and delicate as snakes.

Maryam had no need
for such decorations,
but they were such lovely things,
she found herself wavering
between the blue and the purple.

The blue had eyes of cobalt glass,
body dotted with smaller jewels --
sapphire and aquamarine in facets,
smooth cabochons of lapis lazuli.

The purple had eyes of citrine
and scales studded with amethyst,
some of the stones even blending
tones of violet and gold.

"May I be of assistance?"
the shopkeeper asked,
appearing at Maryam's elbow.

"Oh, I don't know," she said.
"I don't really need either of these,
but I can't help admiring them.
They remind me of my family colors."
She flicked a hand to show off
the heavy bracelet she was wearing,
the Smith peacock resplendent upon it.

His gaze caught on the bracelet,
then flicked up to her steamsmith pin.
"I might have just the thing," he murmured.
"There's one I don't display, for it has
a broken wing I've never managed to mend --
but I think it might suit you."

The shopkeeper went into the back
and returned with a fine wooden box.
From it he lifted -- a peacock dragon,
magnificent in enameled scales
of purple and green and blue.
The eyes were golden-green jade,
the body glinting with minute emeralds,
sapphires, and amethysts.

One silken wing hung in tatters,
the gossamer cloth torn
and the fragile struts mangled.

"What happened to him?"
Maryam asked, her dark fingers
already reaching for the damaged toy.

"The previous owner's cat caught him,"
the shopkeeper said.

Maryam laughed, not because it was funny,
but because she couldn't help thinking
about Farasat and the dreadful result
of a cheetah catching anything clockwork.

"I can well imagine," she said.
"I have a cheetah myself, and some days
it seems like he's destroyed half the house.
I suppose I could keep this in the workshop ..."

"Half price, because of the damage,"
the shopkeeper said, and that was
quite a bargain -- it would be worth
nearly that much for the gems alone.

It was still more than she ought to be spending
for what amounted to a clockwork knickknack,
but Maryam hated to see something
so delicate and beautiful left broken
when she could so easily fix him.

So Maryam went home
with the peacock dragon in hand.
She stripped off the ruined silk
and straightened the bent struts.

There were a few damaged scales, too,
below the base of the right wing.
Maryam covered the flaws
with more precious stones.

It was Rori who suggested
the solution for the wings, though,
as Maryam held up one and another
of her silk handkerchiefs,
trying to decide which color to use.

"Why not do them all?"
the charlady said.
"His scales are all colors,
so should his wings be.
It's no trouble to sew up
a bit of patchwork."

"I'm afraid I make a better steamsmith
than I do a seamstress," Maryam admitted.
"I think I can put the vanes back on,
but I shouldn't like to try anything
more finicky than that."

"Well, I'm no expert," said Rori,
"but I can do a nice Irish Chain."

So Rori pieced together wings
from scraps of multicolored silk,
and Maryam didn't have to
sacrifice any handkerchiefs after all.

When the vanes were done,
Maryam carefully tacked them
over the metal struts.

Then she turned on the peacock dragon.

He whirred softly as he paced back and forth
across Maryam's workbench,
fanning his dandy patchwork wings.
The light caught on every jewel and scale,
his jade eyes glowing with inner fire.

"He's beautiful, m'sir," said Rori,
"but you can never take him into the house!"

"I know, Farasat would kill him,"
Maryam said with a chuckle,
"but this does brighten up the workshop."

* * *

Notes:

Here's an example of a clockwork dragon.

This is one type of peacock dragon.

Enamel art spans a variety of techniques.  Here you can see enameled dragon scales.

The Irish Chain quilt pattern relies on squares.  It appears in single, double, and triple variations.  The dragon wings would resemble this colorwash triple.

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17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: March 9th, 2014 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
:smiles: would love to have a rainbow one for our place.

Welcome back, Maryam. We missed ye, lassie.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2014 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

Yeah, I'd enjoy having one here too.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: March 9th, 2014 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Me too! Lovely.

Yeah; there's this problem with cats.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2014 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Me too! Lovely. <<

I'm glad you liked it.

>> Yeah; there's this problem with cats. <<

... where everything valuable must be suspended from the ceiling with strings.
siege From: siege Date: March 9th, 2014 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

... where everything valuable must be suspended from the ceiling with strings.

No, that's just another challenge...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2014 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

O_O

That cat is spring-loaded. Or possibly levitating.
siege From: siege Date: March 9th, 2014 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Bengal cats are known for being excellent jumpers.
From: siliconshaman Date: March 9th, 2014 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Cats are kind of spring loaded, that's how the tendons and muscles work in their back-legs... That said, fairly certain they know how to manipulate gravity too. How else do they suddenly get heavier when you try to pick a sleeping cat up!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>> Cats are kind of spring loaded, that's how the tendons and muscles work in their back-legs... <<

True.

>> That said, fairly certain they know how to manipulate gravity too. How else do they suddenly get heavier when you try to pick a sleeping cat up! <<

Good point.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 12th, 2014 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Kids do the heavier-when-sleeping thing too.
From: siliconshaman Date: March 12th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

True that... although cats can do the whole, "Gravity, not so much a law as a guideline" thing as well...
eseme From: eseme Date: March 14th, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

See Robin Wood's excellent Theory of Cat Gravity, which is an entire small book, and delightful.

Highly recommended.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 12th, 2014 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I had a cat who could jump like that in her youth. I used to imagine that she had an alternate shape that was an owl or owl-gryphon.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: March 9th, 2014 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my.

• than a do a seamstress
-> than I do
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2014 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Oh my. <<

I'm glad you liked it.

>> • than a do a seamstress
-> than I do <<

Fixed, thanks.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 12th, 2014 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely. I, too, want one!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 12th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the poem. Yes, model dragons are awesome.
17 comments or Leave a comment