My sister-brother, you remember the time before
the wizard, the place you saw him, trousers hiked
to knees and trudging, trundling between the swells
and heaves, and barges pitching, charcoal seas and amber sky.
I never saw him so, white beard flickering, but thicker, standing,
knee-deep, five-fathom water, as they shifted,
knocked together, and the sailors fell and smashed
their bodies in between. We know of in between.
Do you remember how his daughter, still a child, stood
and clapped at all he'd done and how the slaughter
yielded blood-for-blessing, later mixed with wine for travel,
coming west with child on a derelicted, deselected,
empty ship of ghost and echo, how he bound you
then found me. Came here seeking freedom, found us,
your brother-sister, whom history named "he." It's not
quite true, my sister-brother, it's your foot-tread in the
mist, it's neither one nor quite the other.
I am like earth, and you are wind and water.
I remember the indignity, and little better, though my burden,
it was lighter, than for you my sister-brother, you were
his airy Atlas, and his fairy compass, and then his storm-raged
hard-ass, and I was just a kicking thing who terrified the child
with a leer, a lock of hair, and shuffled, shuffled to
the duties he saw fit to leave me—not the real work,
just a trinket, and a trifle, to make myself be useful. I am useful
like the earth in sandstone yellow, in ruddy clay.
He says his own race was once formed in just that way.
On the day he broke his staff and freed you, broke my lead
and left me, and he sailed back east, his child grown and given,
I had feared that you had also left me, bound, or called, or cloven
through with something I half know, something I half unknow,
and unknowing, where I wait on sunset isles, listening,
never thought, not suspecting, there she is on piers and looking.
Childhood steeped in sorcery; adult life, in adultery? Not quite,
but they've a sin-name for it; the one I want is gaudium?
Or something asinine and dumb, some wicked longing,
some sinful sickly sense of belonging to something
out of her god's sight, a trick, a trap, lightening step.
A step into light?
What she gave I'll never care to ponder, just half
her sex, a weight of flesh, opacity, and what for?
A wonder. I can feel my sisters-brothers, slipping
west across the ocean, they are water and they're wind
and they are slapping ships together, knocking men free
to the water, and they're clapping, and I am satisfied.
Mother's gone, my god has left, but I am glad that
we are three.
And that we cannot be denied.