The Gift of the Mist
"He saved me, you know. My brother was deadA wall surrounds the roof's flat edge;
already from ague, shook
his way to his grave - the Marsh's own Gift
they call that disease. I took
to bed soon enough with shivers that spread
my bowels with pains. And then
it stopped. I woke up to night, mind adrift,
alone on a hill somewhen."
the flagstones rough on her feet. Her gaze
absorbs the sight of the surreal tide
covering the Marshes. Her mouth is loose,
yet closed in a line, careful to let
not a single whisper or whimper escape.
Around her the mists mutate, rendering
collections of shapes: a shoe, a lamp,
the face of a woman whitewashed with age.
"He found me and brought me here to this place.She stares at the stars that stud the wheel
The tower and town - they're all
he knows, or at least accepts to be true.
He's Roman, I think. He calls
the ruins Lemanis, makes it his base,
defends it against all ghosts
and beasts and such fears. The last of his crew,
adrift on our Saxon coast."
of the skies above the sunken lands -
something is happening to her: a thought
takes form in her mind, and forms in the shrouds
around the tower. She reaches and takes
the hilt of a knife in her hand, allows it
to cool and solidify, to craft its blade
to a line of sharpness. The line of her mouth
bends and tenses, bunching the tiredness
in her eyes to the edge of her anvil face.
Watching her learn, the lad backs away,
his foot-treads slow, unsteadily feeling
for the hollow of steps to safety below.
"He taught me that trick as well. But I'm not
too good at the learning. Still,
you probably need it more than I do.
Take care of it, though: your will
will need to be strong; the power can rot
your soul. It can snare your head
in nets that will send you mad and screw
you senseless, defenceless. Dead."