First Festival
Samantha Henderson

Idiot girl --

I said you weren't yet ready
to take the mask of a God, not yet
not your first festival, but given your skill
and arrogance, I might have known
that you would try. But,
to take the Scarlet Vixen. I could weep,
were I not so angry. The Ape of Sorrows, yes,
he would have allowed it, for he is gentle, and the Laughing Jackal --
he doesn't care. Any number of Shadows, Daemons, Tagalongs --
any of those you could master. Damn!
you could have tamed them your first season. But you --
you had to seize the Lady of Beauty, Lady of War,
who's anything but merciful. I could have told you
she'd flick you away like a bug,
and here you are: burned, poisoned, useless.
Five years of training wasted,
Five years of my precious time,
for what? A pitiable thing, sprawled upon my bed,
that moans and mumbles through a lipless slit,
whose hands are burned away.

I know you're thirsty; here,
I'll drip water in the corner of your mouth,
and presently go to the garden,
fetch the juice of nightshade berries,
and bring you ease.

Idiot girl,
Fool, double fool,
triple fool me,
for caring.

Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California with her family and various animals. Her poetry and fiction can be seen in Strange Horizons, Chizine, Lone Star Stories, Star*Line, and Abyss and Apex.

Favorite fruit: A perfectly ripe peach.

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