Revisiting the Maiden's Tower

by Stacy Cowley

Fine as spun gold, they said in awe
and greed.
I always knew my value:
a gleaming coin
to trade for a moment's desire
and think no more of after.

Silence is my companion
Silence and stone
and nothing else living.
Only me
and my voice
giving the wind songs I write
in my own language
to tell my own stories

One story:
Of the night a monster came
climbing my stones (some crumbled at his touch)
and braided vines around my tower.
His hair, black as the moonless night
His eyes blacker
His garments gleamed with gold.
Your song, he said
Your beauty, your hair ...
He reached out the filthy hand that broke my stones
and stroked my twisted braids

then screamed.
His red palm brighter than his costume
a thick and living red
a few drops,
but all I need to scry my future:

    a gray stone
    high above
    an oozing, pulsing moat of vivid red

MY hair, I said, MY song, in his language
letting my hate flare and gleam
refracting from the edges of my spun-gold hair
filling the room
and leaving no space for the monster

who tumbled
from the window to the thorns.

I smiled
liking the taste of blood.
I am Rampion;
my winged stalks and
tangled lilac petals require no man's touch.

Now a golden web covers
my window
the razor strands, so fine,
gleam in sun or starlight

The thorns creep higher
and the moat runs faster
over the bones of wooing princes,
questing knights
and a witch.

Silence is my companion
in my stone oasis
Silence and space
for my songs and
my voice
to tell the stories I own.

Stacy Cowley distracts herself from writing articles about technology by making up science fiction tales. When not hunched over a computer, she can usually be found messing about with Vandercook presses or setting things on fire in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Her favourite fruit is the passion fruit, which she finally -- after several dozen failed attempts -- learned to turn into Aussie pavlova.

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