Friday, December 23, 2005

Snowdrop: Stutfall Tower

I'm shocked to realise that I've done no work whatsoever on my work-in-progress for over 2 months - curse that NaNoWriMo madness!

Anyways, I've rectified that tonight. The following section was going to be a Cento, mixing up bits of De Rerum Natura with bits and pieces of English verse, but not only was that plan too ambitious - I speak sod all Latin - but it just didn't fit into the structure of the work. This replacement is much more satisfactory, though still rough as a first draft:

Stutfall Tower

Within the walls the wind is trapped
by sails that hang from stone: the beams
that once supported them now pitch in the flames
of a fire lit on flagstones. He sits
on a wooden block whispering lyrics
in Latin - the language he lost when his shipmates
disappeared in the fogs. He flavours his broth
with Channel brine and chives from the hill.

Behind him stands the boy who shakes,
his palsy sweating his skin in the light
of the flames that kiss the copper pot.
She watches his muscles wrestle beneath
his skin, each tremor travelling the length
of his beanpole arms to break in waves
in his yellow hands. She hugs her arms
across her chest, clears out her throat.

"You said the sea had swamped the Marsh, as if
it happens every night - how can this be?
Don't answer! Let me figure out the key
that holds this madness whole - I saw the drift
of fog across the land turn into waves,
just like the scattered bricks became a church
as I approached it - tricks of moonlight search
me out, perhaps, or maybe mist enslaves
my eyes! And yet that dog was real, the queen
was real, the little kiddie bled green blood -
that's nonsense! Stop it! Think! The soldiers knew
something, and so do you - I think you've seen
the answer. Mist: where does this foggy flood
come from? You'll tell me while we eat this stew!"

And she smiles, her lips stretching apart
to frame her teeth - a fearsome effort,
long forgotten. She leans and grabs
his hand, its shake, and holds it fast.

This section slots into Part 7.

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