Once in river-strewn Zyxistan
in a hamlet whose name was a secret
entrusted to the eldest crone, a child woke
to find her father
laying out a skeleton
of fish bones on a blue cloth.
These two lived alone.
The child knew no other.
Once in a hamlet a pair of boys
climbed onto the back of a beast
they called a dragon. They rode
past many familiar huts, stopping
at one front window. Something fine
lay just inside, aglow on a sunlit cloth.
They’d ride back maybe next week when maybe
no one would be home. That glow would give them power.
The thought brought dark laughter.
Once in the doorway of her home a young child sat
present to the setting sun. If she counted
to three, the mountain would go dark.
She fingered fine bones
that lay beside her.
Touching them delicately
would make the old, old woman appear
and share the first letter of a secret name.
The child knew these things in her marrow
though her father hadn’t said them,
though he had prepared her in his way.
The boys did not succeed
with their intended theft. They may
have turned out not badly.
Their history was lost. Simply lost —
not to crossing-out or reckless fire.
Marjorie Power has work in the new issues of SOUTHERN POETRY REVIEW and ARTEMIS with more forthcoming soon in REFUSES TO SUFFOCATE, a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry from Blue Lyra Press. She lives in Denver, Colorado. For more information, go to her website.