The Night Journey

by Terri Windling

Go by coombe, by candle light,
by moonlight, starlight, stepping stone,
and step o'er bracken, branches, briars,
and go tonight, and go alone,
go by water, go by willow,
go by ivy, oak and ash,
and rowan berries red as blood,
and breadcrumbs, stones, to mark the path;
find the way by water's whisper,
water rising from a womb
of granite, peat, of summer heat,
to slake your thirst and fill the coombe
and tumble over moss and stone
and feed the roots of ancient trees
and call to you: go, now, tonight,
by water, earth, phyllomancy,
by candle flame, by spirit-name,
by spells, by portents, myth and song,
by drum beat, heart beat, earth pulsing
beneath your feet, calling you home,
calling you back, calling you through
the water, wood, the waste, the wild,
the hills where Dartmoor ponies pass,
and black-faced sheep, a spectral child,
a fox with pale unnatural eyes,
an owl, a badger, ghostly deer
with horns of star light, candle light
to guide the way, to lead you here,
to lead you to the one who waits,
who sits and waits upon the tor,
he waits and watches, wondering
if you're the one he's waiting for;
he waits by dawn, by dusk, by dark,
by sun, by rain, by day, by night,
his hair as black as ravens' wings,
his eyes of amber, skin milk white,
his skin tattooed with spiral lines
beneath a mask of wood and leaves
and polished stone and sun-bleached bone,
beneath a shirt of spiders' weave,
his wrists weighted with silver bands
and copper braids tarnished to green,
he waits for you, unknown and yet
familiar from forgotten dreams;
you dream and stir upon your bed
and toss and turn among the sheets,
the wind taps at the window glass
and water tumbles through the leat
and through the garden, through the wood,
and over moss and over stone
and tells you: go, by candle light,
and go tonight, and go alone;
he's sent you dreams, he's left you signs,
he's left you feathers, beads and runes,
so go, tonight, by candle light,
by ash and oak, by wood, by coombe.

Terri Windling is a writer, painter, editor, and folklorist, as well as the co-director of The Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts. She has published over 40 books for children and adults, winning 8 World Fantasy Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, the Mythopoeic Award (for The Wood Wife), and placing on the short-list for the Tiptree Award (for The Armless Maiden). Her art has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the U.S. and Europe. A former New Yorker, she now divides her time between a small country village in Devon, England, and an arts retreat in the Arizona desert -- a peripatetic life she shares with her partner, English theatre director Howard Gayton. Her favorite fruit is the saguaro fruit, for the beauty of its deep red juice dribbling down on silver-green cactus skin. For more information about Terri's work, please visit her website.

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