November 3, 2012 | 2
This month’s Accretionary Wedge is all about geopoetry, and you’d think that an SF writer who’s got a story that’s about a poetry war could pull something off. However, I got so wrapped up in Halloween madness that I nearly missed this one. If one of my long-time readers and favorite geology people ever, Karen Locke, hadn’t asked me to post her poem, I’d have remembered only when the whole Wedge was posted. As it is, I’m two days late and hoping Karen and Matt will both forgive.
Karen’s poem, “Vaughn Gulch: Devonian Limestone,” comes complete with word pictures painted that are enough to make any geologist drool, along with a citation to a paper. I can’t beat that. I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll fulfill a long-ago request from Bora and others that I post a bit of my fiction here.
The following poem comes from a short-story-in-progress that explores the poetry battles fought between two famous poets of long ago. This poem is being delivered by Nahkorah, who is watching her rival Disahnahle carve a brief poem into a slab of mudstone. There’s quite a bit of context and culture and so forth that go in to this, but it’s probably enough to know for now that they are both what we earthlings would call unicorns, that Nahkorah’s branch of the species lives on the plains and Disahnahle’s lives in the mountains, and tensions have been rising that threaten to tear the world apart along that dividing line. Actual civil war has been postponed while factions watch the poetic combat. Nahkorah, watching Disahnahle work in the cool and quiet peace of a cave, has been struck by a sudden realization, and this is the result.
Nothing lasts, eternal Unchanged Yesterday long past Someone cooled their hooves in the mud of a stream Where today you carve a line Which holds greater worth: That moment of coolness Those lasting words? I know what each of you would say Nothing lasts Things become separate That side of the stream or this This elevation or that Mountains rise, plains fall And it is often forgotten That this mountain was a plain once That this plain washed down from a peak Things separate Not really separate Need for divisions Divides us Without boundaries we would be no different We need divisions Remember the places between
It’s got a bit of geological imagery in it, so hopefully it will do. Geology makes wonderful metaphors, and I love weaving it through stories and poems, allowing it to say necessary things without necessarily saying those things plainly.
One day, I will actually finish this story, and share it with you, should you wish it. After Mount St. Helens, anything is possible.