Ah, Joringel

by Sandi Leibowitz

    My pearl, my gem,
    My red flower!

The years ticked by while I
modeled marble out of men,
composed birds from
the raw stuff of girls.
One well-wrought chant
and blue veins hardened into white,
over-loud hearts
muffled within travertine.
I molted jut of chin
and droop of breast
into exactitude of
thrush and wren.

Who can explain the itch
of the collector?
Crowding my garden with statues
and my tower with cages,
for you I waited,
you of the poppy-soft skin,
you of the apple-sweet mouth.

    Ah, Joringel,
    My one in seven thousand!

My tower's loud with song;
the larks trill for freedom,
the swallows warble dirges
that would make black horses waltz.
But it's Jorinda,
your nightingale, your love,
who tunes the day to dawn.
I cannot sing so sweet.
My songs hoot and croak.

    Ah, Joringel,
    My pearl, my gem,
    My flower red as blood!

The tower-clock keeps
a placid face
while Time screams on.
Even so am I
the stillness at the center
of sorcery's undoing,
the wings shuddering back
into shoulders,
the shattering stone.
I give you my best gift,
a dream that bursts the bars.

    How the crimson petals
    Enfold the pearl!

I set you free
and I become
the cat, the owl, the witch,
the dark thing in the night,
the tattered hag that mutters to her demons,
    O Zachiel!  the moon!,
the forest's black wings.

Sandi Leibowitz likes to flit between the shadows of worlds and words. Her poems and stories, mostly fantasy based on myths and fairy-tales, may be found in Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, Apex, Shelter of Daylight, Niteblade, the Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and Abyss & Apex. She sings classical, folk and early music and plays recorder with such groups as Cerddorion, NY Revels and Choraulos.

When asked what the word "cherry" immediately makes her think of, she has to say that in spring she thinks not of the fruit but of what might be the most impossibly beautiful thing on earth: a blue sky glimpsed through the pink of blossoming cherry-tree boughs.

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