Borderland, Shadowgate

by Jane Røken

Unaware of the fact that they would never meet,
they kept inventing one another, in the dark;
each carving and assembling the other
from scraps of mythic skin, raw fragments
spiked with bitter tannin, mustard, blue ginger.

By daylight they built early-crumbling towers
offshore, and rows of lighthouses that were cracked,
flawed with songlines of the shifting shale—
but no bridges or causeways: too bold, too rash.

They exchanged fairylizard tales out of tabernacles
on coppery, hazy ground, smiling secretly
between themselves, by candlelight; each
the other’s talisman, harpsichord against evil eyes
and cruel gods of uncertain denominations.

Far away, the rolling orange flicker of oil lamps.
The sudden night. The kettledrum. The edge.
The land lies sleeping now. Let it dream.


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