This became rather overgrown, so I have pruned it. I don't have the heart to remove the two poems at the end, though.
DA is primarily a site for visual artists, and so I don't spend much time here any more. I can't draw worth a damn. Most of my new stuff now appears first on my fanfiction.net site, which is linked below. If and when I get a sufficient number of illustrations done, I'll set the whole thing up into Skyrim-style type and post it here again as an Acrobat file.
However, DA does retain one advantage in that it will accept (albeit reluctantly) .pdf files. This means that I will still be posting finished works here, if they contain graphics or unusual typography.
Over the local stations, one by one,
Announcers list disasters like dark poems
That always happen in the skull of winter.
But once again the storm has passed us by:
Lovely and moderate, the snow lies down
While shouting children hurry back to play,
And scarved and smiling citizens once more
Sweep down their easy paths of pride and welcome.
And what else might we do? Let us be truthful.
Two counties north the storm has taken lives.
Two counties north, to us, is far away, -
A land of trees, a wing upon a map,
A wild place never visited, - so we
Forget with ease each far mortality.
Peacefully from our frozen yards we watch
Our children running on the mild white hills.
This is the landscape that we understand, -
And till the principle of things takes root,
How shall examples move us from our calm?
I do not say that it is not a fault.
I only say, except as we have loved,
All news arrives as from a distant land.
Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt."
This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.
Explorer, you tell yourself this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.
But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.
Gwendolyn MacEwen, "Dark Pines Under Water," The Shadow Maker (1972)
Current Residence: South Vancouver
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Or perhaps they would understand perfectly, she muttered to herself. Considering how their mission had gone so far. They had arrived on a routine inspection of the system of illusions that hid the continued existence of the Temple of the Infinite Spirit from hostile outsiders to discover half the projections misaligned and the other half simply missing. The devices that the H’kig had contrived to duplicate and reinforce the illusion-creating skills of her people hadn’t worked well at all, and they’d just casually noted the fact, shrugged, and gone about their business. Fatalists. Beings like that give pacifism a bad name, she thought grimly. The galaxy is a harsh enough place without hanging up a Hit Me sign.
Now someone was going to have to clean up the mess. And two or three high-level adepts would have to be stationed out here to maintain the illusions, since it looked as if they could only be kept functioning by expert attention. They were too damned complex to be continually cast from N’zoth, their homeworld, all the way to here.
She cautiously sipped her drink and looked around the room again. At least it wasn’t crowded. None of the handful of other passengers that had come with the freighter had made an appearance. Just the crew, trying to drink themselves into unconsciousness as quickly and decorously as possible, and sitting at the bar, the captain, Erkas Andrakles, no doubt wondering how long he’d be stuck in his home port because of this disaster. They hadn’t told him the details, of course. But they hadn’t concealed their expressions, and these could be read plainly enough.
She took her drink and went to sit beside Andrakles. He looked at her, nodded, and asked, “Going back home this time, or continuing on?”
“I don’t know, Erkas, I really don’t know. I was supposed to go on but they might want all hands on deck with this mess. Another opportunity lost.”
He grunted and addressed his drink again. He knew better than to ask for details. Then he glanced up again as the door swung open.
“Look who we have here. Though since we’re the only ship in port and the only bar in town, why am I surprised?”
A woman had entered, looking around her hesitantly as if she didn’t know quite what to expect. She was wearing a thick coat of local make, like Tirika’s but dark-colored, and the body inside it was as slender as Tirika’s, though she was not quite as tall. Her hair was black, and her skin was a yellowish brown, almost a human color, but not quite. Tirika immediately recognized her as the young Mirialan who had been on the freighter with them. When Tirika was with her sisters, they formed a lively but almost impenetrable group, and so she had only seen the Mirialan once, and had never had the chance to speak with her. But she smiled when she spotted Tirika and Erkas sitting together, and walked over to take a seat at the bar.
“Hello, Captain. Thanks for bringing me here safely. I’m not worried about finding a ship back to a more populated area. I’m not on a tight schedule.”
Erkas smiled back. “If you don’t mind waiting, I’ll always be returning, sooner or later. Home port, as far as I have one. I’m comfortable here. The smaller the pond, the bigger the fish feels. But I never stay for very long. Have to follow business.” He nodded toward Tirika and added, “You’re lucky you didn’t have to wait longer to get here. It wasn’t a regular passage. Her people chartered my ship for the run. Otherwise there would have been nothing for quite a long time.”
The Mirialan turned her attention to Tirika. “I should really thank you, then….” She trailed off, a puzzled frown on her face, clearly at a loss to identify Tirika’s people or her home planet.
Tirika wasn’t offended. Fallanassi are accustomed to flying under the radar. In appearance, they are very similar to the other human races, and in addition, they are almost never encountered off their home world.
“I’m with the Fallanassi group here, the people who hired the ship, as Erkas said. My name is Tirika. We have an ancient debt of gratitude for services that the H’kig monks once performed for my people, and so we make occasional visits to return the favor. They aren’t very technology-oriented, so we do repairs on the electronic equipment they can’t do without. You’re a Mirialan, aren’t you? What brings one of your people here? The H’kig are friendly enough to those who respect them, but it’s a long way out of the way to anywhere.”
The woman looked at the table for a moment, tracing a design with her finger in a small pool of spilled liquor. Tirika noticed that the backs of both her hands were covered with tattoos of squares and triangles. After a moment, she looked up and answered softly,
“Yes. My name is Rey, and I am a Mirialan. I’m here to visit the temple. I couldn’t find out much about it in my sources other than the name and brief descriptions, but I felt it was surely an important place, and so I came to see it in person.”
“Felt?” Tirika asked. She was paying very careful attention now.
“Felt. You understand, I think. Your people are Force sensitives, of a certain kind; mine are sensitives too, but of a different variety. And I’m a little different from my fellow Mirialans as well.”
“You sensed the location and power of the Temple of the Infinite Spirit by means of the Force?”
Rey shook her head.
“Yes and no. Not so simple. Mirialans can’t sense things at enormous distances, the way you Fallanassi can. But I do have one power that’s unique among my people. I can recognize True Words. Sometimes. I’m not perfect. Often I feel nothing at all.”
She took a deep breath, and accepted with a murmured thanks the glass that the bartender handed to her.
“True Words?” Tirika prompted. Rey nodded, and sipped her drink before continuing.
“If I’m lucky, I can read an account or a description of a people or a practice or a place and instantly know how faithful the record is to the reality it claims to describe. How accurate the writer was. How much knowledge the writer actually had. I can sense the link between the naming and the named. I don’t know if it’s a Force power or not. It’s hard to describe.
“When I read accounts of the Temple of the Infinite Spirit, they were always short and lacking in detail, but I felt at once that there was something greater there. My ability told me clearly that these accounts were True Words, not the empty boasting that some other, more famous shrines indulge in. I knew that the writers had conveyed the facts with sincerity as they understood them, and that they represented a reality that I could not ignore. And so I came.”
“Why couldn’t you ignore it?” Tirika said, and regretted it as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Such a blunt question could easily be going too far. Rey didn’t seem to mind, though, and answered readily.“Because it is a genuine manifestation of what all of us seek, in our different ways. Some approach the spring from the east, some from the west; some in light and some in darkness; some by instinct and some by careful planning. But the water that sustains us all remains the same.”