She has never seen him, glimpsed him
only in the tales of others: in maelstrom ink,
time scabbed upon pages, her mind-verse.
His eyes change color when she doesn’t see
but sees, and she tries to fill the blank spaces of his face
with parts of other men: a mathematics
professor’s cave-deep eyes, a physicist’s crooked trickster smile.
I will be your snow bride.
Fill my mouth with bear blood and cold winter leaves
gift me a crown of stag skull to hold my veil of bones
and worship the silence inside of me.
He never speaks to her.
When other arms hold her, they are starlight warm
but feel cold as the silence of the starless black.
She does not know if his arms exist.
But she wishes for them, her wish
a stargazer’s shootingstarwish for alien life.
I will be your grass bride.
Wreathe my branch limbs into such shapes as please you,
call a veil of bees from within my bones
and I promise that the blossoms will burst, will bloom.
She fills the light years with milestones
of other men’s loving. She thinks there is an echo
of him in them, like a breath almost expelled
by an ancient statue of Pan.
The distance traveled alone, so harsh.
I will be your sunflower bride.
My bones are dry, sandalwood and copper scented
they have given in to heat. Beneath a veil of pollen find me
and feel my blood, hot beneath the skin.
Stars bleed their lives to her in dreams.
Ursa Major, the Bright Bear, speaks of hope and wishing,
but her wish–he–is not from here,
not from this world, not from any other.
A thought and ink-borne wish, he is
a starlight-shadow that eclipses her sunlight life.
I will be your hay bride.
Red apple peels give me for a veil, bones of my fingers white
as skinned apples. My eyes want to capture the color of a single leaf
and forget about the change, green gold scarlet.
Constellations change only at the passing of ages.
Her age is one of pain, of something lost
that she never knew how to own.
Star-crossed not by fate but by her ink-poisoned dreams,
she thinks of him as she wears the gray of winter.
And yet his gravity still pulls her, and she knows
that the truth of his mass and his shootingstarwarmth are uncertain
but real to her like white dots on a map
Alexandra Seidel probably caught the myth and fairy tale bug while she was out in the woods one midsummer day. Meanwhile, the disease has turned her into a Rhysling-nominated poet, a writer and editor. Her first collection of stories and poems, All Our Dark Lovers, is forthcoming from Morrigan Books on Valentine’s Day 2013. Other work may be found in Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, and elsewhere. You can follow her on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.
I do not remember one clear drop of inspiration for this piece, there are many things coming together here. There is the longing to know (or map) all the universe, both the literal one of the physical world but also the metaphorical one inside ourselves. I was also working with the idea of change in order to find love or to be loved, which is not always the same thing, especially not in this poem. The left column represents order, be it the structure that life imposes on us or the way we try to make sense of our lives. On the right, there are the inner workings of my protagonist, if you will, with the chilling realization that wanting and having at the same time cannot be achieved.
Photograph of Ursa Major seen from Hawaii is in the public domain.