Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NaPo 11: 12 April - Snowdrop 5.7: The Power of Names

Snowdrop 5.7: The Power of Names

Javelins of frost jemmy between
the flints and chalks that form the soil
of the harrowed field. Hammering at clods
with his battered ladle the lad harvests
a treasury of roots - a turnip, a carrot.

"You have a name, my girl? We've not
had time to greet you properly -
the boy here has no manners, see,
and it ain't right to treat a guest
with disrespect. The lowest whore
will have a name (though not her own
most likely, truth be told). So who
are you? Your folks? It's good to know
these details now, before we eat."

The older soldier stands beside her;
he picks a twist of peas from their vine.
His eyes are open, an itch of a smile
twitching the lines that track past scabs
and under the sideburns scraped to his jaw.

"They're strange things, names. A name can make
or break a man without a care
to character or service, see?
Some names are good: they carry weight
and open doors, they sniff out chance.
But other names, they bring bad luck -
unclean, unfit for friendship, yes?
Tell us your name, and maybe we
can praise it to God and make it hale!"

She shakes her head and shivers. She has
a name, she knows it, but now she comes
to say it - no sound escapes her mouth.
Instead her hand squeezes a husk:
a grizzled bean bounces to the ground.

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