Snowdrop - 9.5: Dawn
The sky is lighter, a scale of clouds
skinning the dome, their scorched edges
announcing the arrival of the ruddy sun
in minutes, seconds ... and Snowdrop kneels
in front of the man. He fumbles for his staff,
struggles to stand; he seems so old
in the weak light of winter's morning,
as old as the hills he inhabits, as old
as the battered pot placed at his feet.
"A copper pot, as green as spring with ropesWithin the cauldron a curl of mist
of smoke coiled inside its rim - who rests
within its roily depths? Did Mum protest
when shown her final home, did she lose hope?"
extends, a probing tendril seeking
space to expand, a place to fix
its form and set ... and Snowdrop watches
it branch and grow, grab at the legs
of its Tally Man, master its fear
of space as it latches to the linen sheet
gathered about the butcher's shoulders.
"I think this pot is full of life already:When he notices the whiskery growth
look how it seeks the warmth of flesh, as if
it's lost its way - can it taste the air, sniff
the iron knife? And yet it's so unsteady ..."
he moves to snatch the mat on which
he sat away, whipping the stripes
of the ancient pelt over his head -
a hooded shawl ... and Snowdrop holds
a filament of mist in her fingers, a shred
of contact, a thread of thought, a moment.
"... a newborn lamb caught by the height of legs,Beyond Snowdrop, the silent man
or maybe older, a shrivel of life that once
was whole and strong - a giant beast - a god -"
takes from the pouch tied to his belt
her nadir, its bolster embedded in horn.
Chanting his words, he weaves the tool
over the scalp of his gift: Snowdrop ... ignores him.
In the blank spaces of her brain she seeks
a mould, a length of metal annealed,
a legend of a blade, a bedtime tale,
a key to a kingdom, a crude ikon -
she feels its hilt form in her hand.
"no saintly prince will ride to save me: dregsAs he brings his palm to her brow and pushes
is what I am, the pikey girl, the thief. No lance
to spike this mad insanity, no rod -"
her ear to her shoulder she shakes the weight
of wet metal away from the earth
beneath her. A coldness catches at her neck
- his knife, arrived and ready to notch
her throat. She carves the caliburn
through mud and mist to meet the edge
of the magic pot: it pits the lip,
pauses, presses past the copper
into the cauldron's heart, its heat - and shatters!
Shatter the dawn; shatter
the dream; shatter
the world to the