The Ivory Lady

by Samantha Henderson




 My mother told the story, late

 when the fires smoked the hide tent, deep in winter

 and the skins began to crack. Wrapped half-asleep

 in rabbit furs, I listened to the women's stories

 which men are not to hear. Tales of the riverfolk,

 laughing in summer, teasing, beguiling,

 when you beat the clothes with stones at the bank,

 and the faceless gnomes, who for a penny and a sugar-cake

 left under the willow, will bring you powders,

 to stop your courses. And the Lady, the Ivory Lady

 who trails across the battlefields, tall and pale,

 beautiful and hungry,

 and takes the hearts of the wounded.


 If I'd slept instead of listening, perhaps,

 I would not see her now, walking shadowed,

 where the Khan's men and ours lie mingled. Silent,

 now the horses have stopped screaming, and the moans of

 the wounded fail. She walks from man to man,

 sometimes she bends and rises

 with crimson streaks across her face. She sees me now,

 the Tarn-man's spear through my thigh and my life

 trickling through the spring grasses. She sees me,

 moving through the rising mist, and her eyes are gentle,

 and her mouth is red, and her face is pale as the belly

 of the new-cast deer,

 and everything is Ivory.



"The Ivory Lady" copyright Samantha Henderson 2005


About the Author:

Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California with her family, a corgi, and various Rabbits of Mystery. Her work has appeared in such markets as Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, and The Fortean Bureau.  


Lone Star Stories * Speculative Fiction and Poetry * Copyright 2003-2005


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