Monday, May 16, 2011

The layman's guide to woodkin

The gypsy wraps herself in cheap gauzy skirts tucked up just so in order to display her fine toffee legs. This is a trick--she is only drawing attention away from her chipped tooth and ragged fingernails. She believes the tiny bells around her ankle charm all that hear their uneven jingling. In truth, they simply announce her whereabouts and delineate the throes of her dance. Her colors dazzle and swirl, but in the end, her only true power is in her hair. Be gentle with her.

The warlock's toes are gnarled and his face is creased from sun and salt, although you will not see these things. His skin is rough and pocked, but turns as luxuriant as a lion's pelt when you nuzzle against him. Deep in the night, the warlock will suckle and knead you. He will transform you into butter (summerling) or velvet (winterling). Warlocks are short.

The rogue lounges in the jumbled limbs of the oak as if he were stretched out on a silk bolster, one leg thrown upon the other and his head cradled in the hook of his elbow. When you walk beneath him, he may or may not coo. If he doesn't, you will pass unaware. If he does, you will stop mid-step, drop your basket and arch an eyebrow. He will eat every bit of your cheese and empty your skin.

The enchantress tastes of ginger. She is fair with clear blue eyes, but dark of heart. She secretly fears the dawn. If you reach for the curve of her waist, she may level her gaze at you and part her lips, or she will dissolve into sobs and tears. The outcome of either spell is the same and you will not leave her for three days.

The chemist knows everything about you, but is oddly indifferent towards your mysteries--a fact he tries to cloak with carefully timed smiles or a brow knitted with false concern. Amid the bottles and vials and scales of his shop, he is a mighty king. Without his props, however, he is wholly unremarkable. Breathe deeply of his vapors whenever he offers them and leave a proper gratuity.

The jack of hearts comes whenever you beckon as long as you don't beckon too often. He never wears shoes. He will grip your arms and swing you round and round and round until the laughter hurts your lungs. The essence of grass will linger in his wake for as long as it takes to mend your sleeves.

You don't need your fairy godmother until you need your fairy godmother. By then your tangled quandary will infuriate her. She may or may not abide your needs, for she is fickle and peevish on even the fairest of days. If your fairy godmother one day trades her wand for a snake (which is just as likely as not), it is not your fault. You'll carry a spiked burden from then on just the same.

The Horseman smells of the earth and bears thick calluses on his hands. He conserves his words. If he invites you to ride, he will do so quietly and with a crooked grin. Nonetheless, you have achieved the highest honor. Accept his offer immediately. Bear the soreness of your loins upon his jolting saddle without complaint and ride for as long as he will have you. If your grasp pleases him, this glory will last until the gloaming falls.

* * *


Bridget Callahan said...

"The enchantress tastes of ginger" is such a good line. That will be in my head all day.

Chris said...

I do believe I caught myself a horseman.

Absolutely lovely, Erin!

dean said...

O'Brien, this is insanely cool. Insanely fucking cool.

Sean Craven said...

This is genuinely charming, and has the real ring of fantasy. It brought to mind writers like Sylvia Townsend Warner and Hope Mirlees and Thomas Burnett Swann and I had no idea you walked that side of the street.

I am surprised and pleased, and offer my congratulations.

Dudesworthy said...

Cool! I don't suppose there's any reason why we can't carry on?

If you're trying to find your way, then The Lost Guide won't be much help. This melancholy soul will regale you with tales of golden youth in a Kingdom long consumed by dust and myth. He has lost himself in his memories, and so, he can no longer take you where you want to go, but he may just lead you to where you need to be.

Kirk said...

"She was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
Her mama had to dance for the money they'd throw
Grandpa'd do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of
Doctor Good"

For some reason, the top picture brought that to mind.

Ms Amanda said...

I can hear the sound of tearing linen, taste a gingery warmth, smell the essence of grass, feel the ache of the raucous saddle.

I want to purr with delight after reading this.

alphadog said...

Treat the Gypsy with consideration and defer to the enchantress for they both can make off with your heart and soul.

Once Known as The Badger said...

The Horseman smells of the earth and bears...

...some say bears eat babies raw, some folks have a bear across the hall... Lyle Lovett

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi gang and thanks for the kind words.

I LOVED Bridget's "glossary" and wanted to do my own for some time. When the muse came to me yesterday morning with this, the writing of it was pure bliss.

Imagine the idea of a warlock kneading his fingers into your flesh and gnawing on you until you turn into butter. HELL YEAH!

Or what about the horseman? Every man wants to be the him and every woman wants to sleep with him. He's the only winner here, methinks.

My poor gypsy.

Sometimes my blog can be overwhelming, but a post like this makes it all worth it. The format is so perfectly suited to an odd tid bit such.

Thanks for indulging me. This was a blast.

lori said...

Lovely. Perhaps a help wanted ad for a horseman is in order.

Nin Andrews said...


Leslie Morgan said...

Thanks for bringing Bridget to our attention, Erin. She is deserving of our homage. Yow.