by Jacqueline WestThere, where crosses stuck thick as pins in the sky and domes touched the clouds
like fingertips in the crust of some gray loaf; where the people, too, were dark
and sharp-edged, nudged out into thronging streets for their daily bread and
the duties of prayer; there, you would hear his name. Hidden for years
under pious slabs, burnt and stirred, rustled to the bottom of locked
trunks, he waited, patient, for the blossoming blood, the rings
of roses. He knew that one day the prayers would return
on the trailing black hems of the plague doctors, gasped
through sachets that fought the thick stench of rot.
We turn to dark things in dark times. Beneath
the cathedral spires, in whispers, in fear,
his incantation would carry them
from one precious breath to
the next. Abracadabra.
Jacqueline West's work has appeared in journals including ChiZine, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, Illumen, flashquake, and Prick of the Spindle. Her first novel, a dark fantasy for young readers, is forthcoming from Dial in summer 2010. More about her work can be found at www.jacquelinewest.net.
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