Thursday, December 07, 2006

From the Minor Annals VII


That year the Ice Dragon woke during the long darks and swept the sky down upon us.
He came after the solstice rites when the sun was weak and young.
That year the light died for a space.

Within and without the grove, ancient trees shook and splintered like spears, until they glittered as dim death runes beneath his wings.
And isan of his breath rimed about our dwelling like teeth and locked us in crystal and cold.

We cowered in the inmost room of the sanctuary against the silver darkness.
I fed our trembling fire and watched the candles whimper.
I drew and worked my puny magics and prayed.
For I was guardian of three: a wounded warrior, a stripling boy and a dying dog.

For five days and five nights we endured, until he was driven back, driven northward once again, and the light, though weak and scratched and worn, returned.

Now, when the wind sifts snow like salt against my window, I shiver.
Remembering the beginning of that weary year.

32 comments:

jason evans said...

The imagery of power rumbles through the piece, but I especially like the impact of small things that counterbalance it, like the snow on the window. Very nice scene setting!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Shiver... yeah, me too. Gorgeous! I especially like this: That year the light died for a space.

Reminds me of this morning, getting my son on the bus before the sun came up.

Love the idea of an Ice Dragon!

Bernita said...

Nice to see you, Jason.
Thank you.

Even now he stirs again, Sonya. Thank you.

anna said...

Most impressed! I want more of this. tremendous writing Bernita

writtenwyrdd said...

Beautifully lush prose, Bernita!

Ric said...

What a beautiful way to start my day!
15 degrees, fresh inch of snow, but the sun, before the solstice, is riding a blue sky to warm our hearts.
Could only be written by someone with the experience of long Canadian winters.
Masterfully done!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna.
There are other excerpts from The Minor Annals in the archives, if you like the approach.

Thank you, Written.

Aw, Ric, thank you.

December Quinn said...

Just lovely, as always. I do love your work, Bernita. It makes me breathless.

Bernita said...

So kind of you, December.
Thank you.

raine said...

Bernita--you wrote this?!
Oh, my. Absolutely lovely.
This from someone in the midst of a winter white-out this morning. If you can make me appreciate this image right now, you ARE good.
I'll be hitting your archives this evening.
Wonderful.

Bernita said...

I am so pleased, Raine. Thank you.
The search box below the links list should bring the other six up.

Erik Ivan James said...

The Gift...it was given to you.

Of all that you do here, and so wonderfully, the Minor Annals are my favorite. And, to me, your best.

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita, I just found your blog. It's as if I just found a wonderful secret treasure. I am methodically reading through the past posts - and enjoying the visual art as much as your lush and precise writing.

The Northern Lights today evoked long-buried memories of a time in the late 1960s spent in Alaska.

It's 80 degrees here today - I needed your ice shards just to cool down!

Robyn said...

Do you have an agent? If not, you must get one, and make him/her work to publish the annals. Please.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik. It's a very small gift.

You are all so kind in your encouragement.

I don't know what to say, Kate, except thank you for your warm, sweet words.It is snowing here.
You must know then "the long darks.

Robyn, dear heart, you know how timid I am. Have only tried about 4 in the past year for the novel!

Carla said...

Oh, I like this! It reads like the beginning of a myth. Is there more?

Bernita said...

Not at present, Carla.
Just these...fragments - to borrow from Eliot.
An inductive exercise of sorts and in part, to compliment the deductive process.
I am glad you liked it. Thank you.

EA Monroe said...

Lovely, Bernita. You evoke the power of the winter solstice that our ancestors must've felt. ...the candles whimpered. I love that.

kmfrontain said...

Again I say, I would love to see all these little wonderfuls made into a cohesive whole. I just see novel written between the lines.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Liz, Karen.

If I had a story arc I might, Karen.

Jeff said...

Wonderful imagery, Bernita. I really enjoy the Annals.

Gabriele C. said...

I'm with Karen, those Minor Annals are so Magic and Mysterious, I want to know More. :)

Bernita said...

Makes me glad, Jeff.

Thank you, Gabriele. I wonder if the mystery and magic - that you so pleasingly call it - would dissipate if extended. I wonder if the short, elliptical form itself might be part of the effect.

kmfrontain said...

I can see the short pieces heading off story sections, like poetry leading up to the event that inspired them.

spyscribbler said...

Kate, you're right! This place is like a secret treasure box!

Bernita, you're right about the magic dissipating in longer forms. Maybe that's why I just love and adore the shorter forms.

Your short: Wow! Just stunningly graceful and elegant, and vivid! Damn, you're good.

Thank you for letting us read it!

Dave said...

It snowed today - just ugly lake effect snow.
Your post is a much better evocation of winter.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Ugh! sorry I'm late to the party..Blogger was mean to me today, and then we had snow! Bleck!

"...when the wind sifts snow like salt against my window..." I love the word picture that evokes! Very beautiful!

Marie said...

Beautiful writing, Bernita.

Bernita said...

That's a good idea, Karen.
The reality vs. the romantic myth, a possibility.

Spy,... if I were the sort to blush in pleased embarrassment, I would be beet red after that.Instead, I'll just hunch and duck and shuffle and bite my lip in pleased embarrassment. Thank you.
Quite possible an extended piece would soon get tiresomely high purple.

Aaah, Dave, I don't want to evoke a winter ice storm.
Been there.The beauty hides serious danger. Be glad of skittery lake effect.

Bonnie, sister, there's always room for you, no matter how late. Happy it made "pictures."

Thank you, Marie.

Sallie Mae said...

Lovely piece. I couldn't understand why you're so critical of everything posted for feedback at Evil Editor's blog. Now that I understand what kind of writing you consider worthy, it's abundantly clear.

Perhaps you might consider starting your own literary crit blog someday, sort of like an upscale EE's? You certainly have the eye for it.

Bernita said...

Um, Sallie Mae, first of all I can't understand why you claim I have been "so critical of everything."
I don't comment on EE that much to begin with, usually on some detail of technique, and further, have just as often praised selections.
I rather resent the implication that I might be arrogantly incapable of recognizing competent writing in other genres and other styles.
But thank you for the compliment on this piece..

sallie mae said...

Bernita - I emailed you, but it bounced back.

I didn't mean for my previous comment to come as as mean-spirited...it was early, before substantial caffeine, and my brain apparently wasn't firing on all cylinders yet.

After reading your response, I did realize why you thought I was trying to be a wiseacre. I wasn't - honest. There isn't a thing wrong with being vocal about what you like, or don't. When I didn't fully understand why you don't like certain things, I kept my mouth shut. Silence would have been good once the light went on too, but... Anyway, I'm terribly sorry for offending you.

The suggestion about the EE-type literary blog? I truly meant that - you'd be perfect to get one going. I've been thinking about it ever since I first brought it up. If I had your spark - and time to keep a blog - I'd start one myself.