Stories on the edge of familiarity

Vjaited Enters (a Storm-Dance poem)

The following poem is inspired by Ursula Le Guin’s book, Always Coming Home, which has a lot of poetry in it, and the poetry does a very good job at giving a sense of the main culture of the book. And, since I’ve been reading it, I decided to write a poem from one of the cultures I’ve made up for some stories I’ve been working on.

In this world, there are magic storms, called eseteijo (eseteij in the singular), which have a sort of mutative power. Their magic can change the forms of living things, and has a tendency of changing people into monsters.

A historical figure, named Vjaited Roz, was a brilliant man who invented a reliable defense against these storms that could be used to keep entire cities safe and, for this, he is praised. Of course, he’s also considered a madman, because the last thing he ever did was walk straight into a magical storm for no apparent reason.

This poem, meant to be performed aloud, is about him.

Vjaited Enters

Chorus
It comes, the wild storm.
It comes, it comes,
The wild storm, it comes.

Man
What, ho, is this
That churns the trees
And chills the air?

Chorus
The wild storm
It comes, it comes.
The wild storm, it comes.

Man
And what wonder is this,
The soft edging of the breeze?

Chorus
It comes, it comes.
The wild storm,
It comes.

Man
I must go to it, awe-of-all.
One foot I step
Forwards
Into what I have heard but not seen.

Chorus
Don’t go, don’t go;
The wild storm, it comes.
It reaches forth it find you.
Hide, and you will be saved,
Or else it will hold you
Until you are no longer man,
But beast
And the ocean and hills
Will mean no more to you
Than earth’s song
And earth’s pant,
For the wild storm, it comes.

Man
The winds have embraced me
Soft through with magic
No longer threads
Tiny arms, hands, fingers,
But a woven fabric
And the sinuous limbs
Of the liquid spell-stuff
That caress my skin.

Chorus
It comes, the wild storm.
The wild storm, it comes.
It comes with teeth and claws and sword:
Not a caress, but the whispered edge of a blade
Drawn from its sheath.

Man
But, O, how the wisdom of my forefathers
Has turned to ash.
There is nothing to fear
But the snapping and fall of branches in the gale.
Gladly, I go forward.
I find no danger here.

Chorus
Don’t go, don’t go,
The wild storm is here.
It rasps your skin and grows your claws
Sprouts fur and feather, twists your limbs
From square to round to inverse
To a knot.
Can’t you see?

Man
Oh, God, I see!

Both
Eseteij!

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