“Awakening” by Deborah Davitt

Past a glass castle
            ringed by gloomy cypress trees
and stygian shade,
            two lovers tread, hand in hand,
            heedless of mourning doves’ cries,

or of anything,
            besides each other’s sweet eyes.
Past a line unseen
            The lad halts, frozen in stone,
            while his love becomes a bird.

An old crone, smiling,
            took the nightingale away
and warned the young lad,
            never to trespass again
            in the mourning wood’s fell shade.

While the nightingale
            joined with many other maids,
transformed as she was,
            in an aviary dim,
            and cried warnings with the doves.

But why would the crone
            do such a thing? She enforced
chastity, built a
            cloister for their minds, taught them
            spells—but never released them.

Some would have it that
            the lad labored in stables,
learning humility,
            patience, diligence thereby,
            for a mythic seven years.

Instead, he read books,
            esoteric tomes of lore,
consulted sages,
            and learned from philosophers,
            but still had no answer,

until the dream came,
            illuminating, divine,
showing him a bloom,
            with which he could overcome
            the crone’s enchantments most vile.

He sought it in fields,
            in hills, until he despaired,
and cast himself down
            to sleep. Awakening, he
            found the flower in his hand

A blood-red bloom, bedaubed
            by dew, a black pearl glistens,
nestled at its heart.
            Spell-breaker promised by dreams,
            born of heart’s own need, distilled.

To the mourning wood
            he came; broke doors, shattered
cages, and unbound
            all those cloistered there—
            to some of the maidens’ dismay.

“We prefer it here,
            with a life all of the mind;
no men or mirrors.
            Your offer of our freedom,
            we must graciously decline.”

Reunited with
            his love, he raised the flower
to strike the crone down,
            but the maiden stayed his hand.
            “This power was always yours,”

the crone declared then,
            “You’ve awakened to it now,
but the power to try
            and the will to decide was
            always within your hearts.”


Bio: Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Nevada, but currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son.  Her poetry has received Rhysling, Dwarf Star, and Pushcart nominations; her short fiction has earned a finalist showing for the Jim Baen Adventure Fantasy Award (2018) and has appeared in InterGalactic Medicine ShowCompelling Science Fiction, and Galaxy’s Edge. For more about her work, including her Edda-Earth novels, please see www.edda-earth.com.

About this poem: Deborah Davitt says, “Retelling, with subversions, of Jorinda and Joringel”.

Truancy 5, December 2018