Rio Le Moignan
It takes a hundred years to grow a ship.
Only a great craftswoman can teach a seed their needs,
or is able to talk the tree into change,
coax it out of confusion,
to sing away the pain of denying dreams
of lifting leaves sunhigh.
It is painstaking slow cruelty,
warping the Elf with the wood.
The Crafters become captains, of course.
The ships glitter brighter than the water,
pale woodgrain sheathed in seamless crystal.
Shell-shaped curves rise from the waves,
knotted keel roots hidden below.
The hollow of the hull holds a living labyrinth;
barkbound, rising from earthpools and husking leaf litter;
bontrary roots wind upwards,
tangled thickets of tendrils searching skywards —
half the hold is open to the air and rain.
Vines spiral the mast: here, at last,
the trunk leaps gladly lightward,
bursts into brilliant leaves.
Their people melted meekly westwards,
faded like sunwarmed frost.
Rare rebels, the Sea Elves fought their fall.
the sea summoned and they sailed,
gypsies, dreamers, dolphin-led,
waiting for a way back to their woods.
The sails are subtle, shades of green-growth shadow,
but the crew wear amber, indigo, bloodred,
bold as flowers amid the branches, as they tend the ship.
Their pale skins stay untanned by sun and wind.
Pearl divers, map makers, wreck finders,
swept on by festival winds
they bring brief awe to harbours:
alchemy of flutes and news and cargoes,
coral and star names and strangeness;
before the deep sea demands them back,
and they wander on their wild haphazard way.
Fierce gaudy pilgrims,
sailors as surely as they are Elves,
their long laid plan is lost, jetsam.
The ocean-going groves are home,
no cure or counter needed: they are changed.
The journey is the end,
the sea-longing’s grip, a harsh but fitting fate.
Rio Le Moignan is from Guernsey. She has not found the knack of staying in one place for longer than a year or two, and expects to be moving away from her current home in Glasgow quite soon. She has poems in Jabberwocky and Strange Horizons.
Story © 2006 Rio Le Moignan. All other content copyright © 2006 ByrenLee Press
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish