Amal and the Night Visitors

by Sonya Taaffe

Their song comes in before them.
To catch up, they tread the road broad as winter,
starker than the snow: the stars in tinsel,
the hart-horned sun, the moon distrait;
between ragtree ribbons and freezing rain,
his fool's face shines in shyly at your open door.
The wind sounds like a whetstone, scything,
a candle is sinking shadowplay on the sill.
Mistletoe underfoot like a sowing of nebulae,
the light-fingered prints they leave on the cold;
holly-jags and wild cucumber curl stickleback
up the posts where the sun whirled flaring at bay,
oak-leaves scarlet in the burning frost.
The berried ivy and the masks of straw
ring to the same rime as their steps.
Do you hear? Did you follow? Will you share
in the morningstar sleeting, the flight of fire?
Call them counselors or chancers,
they are rapping on your panes for an answer
before daybreak: will you change with the moon,
the stars, the sun, another year to sing in
to the dance at the dark road's end?

Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to myth, folklore, and dead languages. Poems and short stories of hers have won the Rhysling Award, been shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award and the Dwarf Stars Award, and been reprinted in numerous anthologies, including The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, Best New Romantic Fantasy 2, and The Best of Not One of Us. A respectable amount of her work can be found in Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books). She holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale. She believes in time and memories, which are ghosts and stranger things.

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