The Duchess and the Pen

In the cellar of the stunted tree met those two yet without names, the beast which changes form and the entity without form.  They descended into the cellar from different doors and met there beside a channel of water.  The beast took the form of a calico cat—orange, black and white—if only to provide some continuity with its earlier encounter with the poet.  The formless remained as it always was, never to speak or to solidify, but nonetheless potent with intention.

And so the calico mewed for them both:

“We need the Duchess as an Empire needs its Emperor, as the sea needs a Captain and the wind a pilot.  But the Duchess is also a torment.  She has caged us in the one-room house of the host and threatens all that may be with pins and needles.  The poet no longer writes and the diver hasn’t the oxygen for the deepest of dives.  I, myself, forget myself.  And your war with the Morcant stumbles over definition and particularization.

“We forget to gaze upon the face of Narcissus,” spoke the calico to its own reflection, “for we’ve spent too long in our beds, gazing upon the ceiling.

“The Duchess is our key and also our downfall.  We need her but must limit her power.”

To this, the entity without form did an impossible thing and nodded, if ever so slightly, so that the calico could perceive with certainty its silent agreement.

“Then it’s agreed.  The Duchess must part ways with the pen.  She will bark as she must, but she must not write.  The pen must return to the hand of the poet, and the storms must return to the skies.”

The Blind Poet

The diver stood where the bed had been, and so the Duchess demanded, where would she rest her head in the house of the host?

“Here,” spoke a man with dark spectacles.

“Here, on this side of the white curtains,” he tapped his hand to the hardwood floor, beside where he sat.

“Here, make this one room home smaller. Here, where you can see yourself sleep and hear yourself mumble, where all the doors will surround you.”

The man with dark spectacles stood, opened the front door, and walked out into the courtyard.

“The blind poet speaks,” said the diver of the man with dark spectacles.

“Yes,” the Duchess understood, “His spectacles were once storms, but lightning struck glass so often, they’ve burned black. He was the one whom the host knew as Storm Keeper, but his storms became poems and his poems became words. And now, as we know, even words have grown scarce. He writes with his tongue and speaks seldom.”

In the courtyard, the blind poet did not look to the sky. In a land without storms, rain meant nothing, and the cool air loved him as a ghost. An orange tabby purred at his ankles, and so he knelt and caressed behind its ears. Whenever he pet a cat, he worried it might bite. A cat only gives subtle clues about its intentions, clues one can spot but not hear or touch. And so the blind poet kept his distance from the arrival of the fourth.

Soon the small room would become crowded.