The Gilded Serpent presents...
The New Year's Dance
by Najia Marlyz

Inside the darkened castle, formed in a kinder age,
A gnarled log has been added into the firebox
Where it spits, crackles, and glows
As he raises his cup of sweet dark wine,
Muttering a strident toast to the advent of yet another unpredictable New Year.

The Jester of the Court, a formerly transfixing Courtesan,
Having removed indelicately both her silken stockings-
Her toe-ring gleaming beneath the expectant eyes of all therein-
Dances seductively along the frayed edge of a coarse wool carpet lain carelessly across a floor of blackest marble,
Quarried and carved from his own private heartland.

Snoozing animals reposition their curled sleeping postures nearer the hearth,
Resettling their comforted bodies closer to one another,
As the fire struggles to heat the Great Hall to a minimal degree
At which her breath becomes-quite nearly-invisible in the chill.

An intrepid heart's feeble song begins to warble lightly for her newly estranged dance.
Sung in a minor key, void of written lyric,
Its melody renders the discomforting atmosphere vaguely tolerable-in this moment- leaving
firefly sparkles falling through the heavy air.

She dances with absurd passion, weaving a mindful dream.
The Page competes with the cadence of her song as he reads aloud from his unruly scroll, and

His hapless words threaten to spindle the scroll at each consecutive windlass.
"Be it observed by all herein," he proclaims with apparent regret,
"In spite of our innermost trepidations,
The illusive Pathway leading both to and from all the entrances and exits of this unlikely Realm,
Once again, has undergone its annual retrofit.

Having suffered from severe erosion and frequent misstep in years past, and
Having been deemed untenable in such precarious condition,
It has been reconfigured, resurfaced, and narrowed to accommodate but one-
Within all but its most predictable sections."

He continues, a sotto voce:
"We, in sympathetic concord, have made valiant efforts to retain a majority
Of its more familiar potholes and endearing wheel grooves.
We have insured that it shall wind aimlessly along our ridge in a windswept approach,
Away from yesterdays' sheltering lee.

This newly configured Pathway may,
By design or happenstance,
Entwine with other beckoning way-fares,
But reputedly, our compelling path is comprised of numerous inspirational vantages,
Even though edged, as it were,
By stinging Brambles and sour Elderberries."

In this too, please fully take note: It is indelibly slated that (at taxpayers' minimal expense) Confusing and puzzling signposts are to be erected at each and every painful choice.
Though clearly not possessed of a legible hand,
These signs will be-nonetheless-Possessed, promising us much frivolous amusement,
Not unlike those of Burma-Shave.

Thus, all of the transfigured Courtesans,
Blessing the hearts of one another,
Lift up their cups toward the rising moon,
Alongside him that hosted them, saying,
"We bid adieu to 2003 and send ye notice:
Brambles and such not withstanding,
She who dances with a true heart's song is not generally who or where one might think-
If one is disposed to think of her at all."


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Ready for more?
more from Najia-

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12-16-03 Egypt 2003 by Zahraa
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