Grape Vine

  • Hagsgate

    “When those words were first spoken,” Drinn said, “Haggard had not been long in the country, and all of it was still soft and blooming – all but the town of Hagsgate. Hagsgate was then as this land has become: a scrabbly, bare place where men put great stones on the roofs of their huts to keep them from blowing away.” He grinned bitterly at the older men. “Crops to harvest, stock to tend! You grew cabbages and rutabagas and a few pale potatoes, and in all of Hagsgate there was but one weary cow. Strangers thought the town accursed, having offended some vindictive witch or other.”

    Molly felt the unicorn go by in the street, then turn and come back, restless as the torches on the walls, that bowed and wriggled. She wanted to run out to her, but instead she asked quietly, “And afterward, when that had come true?”

    Drinn answered, “From that moment, we have known nothing but bounty. Our grim earth has grown so kind that gardensand orchards spring up by themselves – we need neither to plant nor to tend them. Our flocks multiply; our craftsmen become more clever in their sleep; the air we breathe and the water we drink keep us from ever knowing illness. All sorrow parts to go around us – and this has come about while the rest of the realm, once so green, has shriveled to cinders under Haggard’s hand. For fifty years, none but he and we have prospered. It is as though all others had been cursed.”

    An accursed bounty: rich black soil and hay, cucumber, tomato, red lettuce, summer squash, black eggplant, arugula, grape vine, artichoke, and a tangle of herbs marred by an undercurrent of vetiver, patchouli, and black moss.

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  • The Forest Reverie

    ‘Tis said that when
    The hands of men
    Tamed this primeval wood,
    And hoary trees with groans of woe,
    Like warriors by an unknown foe,
    Were in their strength subdued,
    The virgin Earth Gave instant birth
    To springs that ne’er did flow
    That in the sun Did rivulets run,
    And all around rare flowers did blow
    The wild rose pale Perfumed the gale
    And the queenly lily adown the dale
    (Whom the sun and the dew
    And the winds did woo),
    With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew.

    So when in tears
    The love of years
    Is wasted like the snow,
    And the fine fibrils of its life
    By the rude wrong of instant strife
    Are broken at a blow
    Within the heart
    Do springs upstart
    Of which it doth now know,
    And strange, sweet dreams,
    Like silent streams
    That from new fountains overflow,
    With the earlier tide
    Of rivers glide
    Deep in the heart whose hope has died —
    Quenching the fires its ashes hide, —
    Its ashes, whence will spring and grow
    Sweet flowers, ere long,
    The rare and radiant flowers of song!

    A sunlit ancient forest, dotted with wild roses, grape vine, and queenly lilies, clothed in swirls of opium smoke.

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