Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Archive for the ‘Our Lady’ Category

Our Lady Of the Snows

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

“Her house is everywhere where winter is”; but this turned out not to be true, as I learned when I went away to school and, for the first time, met people from other parts of our country. I learned then that it is full of places — wooded valleys, and windy inlets, rolling farmland or monastery country, indeed, even the occasional bustling city, as big as or bigger than Kardery — places, in short, where the people live not too differently from us. They speak the same language; they read about the capital, and the Empress; children trudge to school to study the same lessons we learn at home.

And yet, despite all these similarities, there is one house inside which these people have never been.

Corinne (she was the first girl I had ever met with bangs; they rippled over her dark eyes like a sheet of water) said that where she comes from, winter means only that the sun is obscured by a new, low sky of cloud. She said, when one goes walking across the pasture to the cows, one’s body casts no shadows on the grass; no, nor the tall stones that hold up the sky; and underfoot the green is wet and brilliant enough to replace – almost — the hidden sun.

Bruno, brown and blond, said that in the plains, winter means no rain, and that means fire. (It makes a noise like an angry army in the mountains, he said.) While in Kuchko’s home city – Kuchko is thin and pale, with a scarred hand — the trees only turn gold (she said), and the water noisy, and white mist rolls in from the bay and makes silver oceans in the air.

But none of them – none! — had ever seen or walked with the Lady.

I told them that, when the first cold comes, I will take them out into the hills behind the school. There we can get used to the corridors, the galleries and halls, while they are still upholstered in autumn. And then, when the time comes, we will go out again — dressed for visiting — and I will show them into her parlor, and we will go to her among the silent trees, and render her what we have brought to give, where she waits for us in her receiving room: Our Lady of the Snows.

Our Lady of the Sands

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

They say Our Lady of the Sands first showed herself on a seashore. The people there venerated her, and prayed to her for fair winds. She was kind to them, and when the storms came, she stood on the point in the rain-lashed darkness and shed her light over the sea to guide lost fishermen home.

Then something happened. Maybe she was displaced by another Lady, arrived in the traders’ ships, or maybe by an usurper risen from the sea. Whatever it was, Our Lady of the Sands fled inland — away from the fishing coasts, across the farmlands, over the corrugated goat-bleating mountains — and inward to the desert.

Once Our Lady was peaceful. Now she has gone bad. She brings sandstorms, and the people fear her.

The oasis folk will tell you this story — though you may be surprised by the calm in their faces. After all, the oasis people lead modern lives, with their date farms and their televisions. They keep up the shrines, but if you ask them what Our Lady really does, they will probably shrug. Sand in the air conditioner? A hard time starting the truck?

The caravan merchants have more to say. They maintain their traditions, even if today they drive ATVs instead of camels, and they will tell you the warnings and tales. Watch for Our Lady’s shadow: a threatening figure on the horizon, a woman veiled in curtains of flying dust. She tails behind her the simoom, the haboob, the khamsin. Once folded inside, you will never find your way out.

In the end, of course, if you wanted the real story about Our Lady, you would have to go to the nomads. It’s too bad they are such a private people. For the stories they tell about Our Lady are different again. They too center on sandstorms, yes, and on someone lost as the terrible wind whips up, the dust rising to choke off sound, light, breath.

But at the end of their stories, sometimes the lost person is found again. What they recount is always the same. A sense of being caught up in arms, clutched, for a few minutes or endless hours, to a blowing heart. A seeking, as of reaching back toward a home where they have never been. And in their noses an unfamiliar tang: the strange, salty, lost smell of the sea.

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