Said the rain outside my window
as it tumbled to the ground
won’t you lend me a hand
can’t you hold me up?
I’m falling like Niagara
past these cusps of clouds
sifting through the sky
like birds or butterflies
If you could take my hand
would you hold it?
where would you lead me?
or would you let go
let the damp spots dry
and lay in the sun
instead of playing
in the rain
The first breath was my last: at the threshold I felt it seeping through the minuscule opening between jam and door as I reached for the bolt, tempering the cool air with its searing fingertips. The second breath, as the door opened, filled my lungs with a desert’s dryness, sinking to the pit of my stomach and making me want to retch. The third breath—I was at the precipice now, only steps from truly entering the world—came with raw heat striking my skin, slipping through the fibers of my clothes and tearing at my pores. The fourth, as I stepped into the sun, struck like a whip to my back, white paint onto black, a lion poised to attack. I staggered forward, my hands reaching, my eyes reduced to blurry forms of faded colors before me: is this all the world has to offer? Is this our destiny, drab and delusional? Saturated with life but devoid of the living?
The fifth breath took me to my knees, hands flailing over pavement, nails caught on stone slivers and lifted from the flesh, agonizing screams lost in a desiccated world.
Is this the emptiness borne of no inspiration? Is this my suffocation when I cannot write?
YOASH, a knight in well-worn armor, carries a bloodstained URN beneath one arm and drags three large, white curving BONES behind him. A crowd has gathered in his wake and now everyone in the courtyard stares at him as well.
Yoash drops the ropes tied to the bones, sets down the urn, and raises his arms to the suddenly silent crowd.
“Bring me the blood and bones of a dragon,” the king told me. I braved a glance up from where I knelt some distance before him and I saw his face without humor. I looked back at the tiled flooring and awaited his reasoning.
“The blood of a dragon can make its drinker invincible in battle,” he said, “and that which is carved from the bones of a dragon cannot be broken, cannot rust or wear out, and will make its bearer impenetrable.”
There was a brief pause in his explanation. I heard a gasp from my beloved, from whichever corner she was watching from beyond me, and I swallowed nervously.
“I’ll require at minimum a pint and half and three or four bones of great length. If you can retrieve these,” my king said, “your endeavors will not soon be forgotten.”
I nodded and rose to my feet. “I have already accepted your challenge. I will not fail you, father.”
He cringed. I was no heir, born of peasantry as I was, and until the marriage, I was no son of his either. I smiled as I turned away, grinned as I slipped from the castle into the sunlight. I had some supplies to gather, a map to make, and then the world would be mine.