The Song of Ceber

Argument: Flying to the sky, Ceber finds the Gate of Heaven and enters into the gods' realm. She makes her way to the palace of the gods.

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The Flight

Heaven’s roof       high above
Stretched marmalade       in sunset
To every point.

With orange wings over her
And an orange sky above
Fair Ceber’s       body was back
If not her mind       made mad by
The unfair       fate issued by the world.
With mercy only for Melè, most like her mother,
Who now burned with rage.
Vowing vengeance if       her valiant mother never returned.

Up Ceber went
To the clouded cap       of the highest peak.
Here the world widened       the whole map bared.
Comely below, Valayis,       The River Vada to
Blasted Mount Cran.
Terbeir too.

      At the top of the world
Ceber Carapace-breaker       spied a gate.
Studded with starlight,
Crystaled with gold,
Crossed with silver,
Sown with emeralds,
Draped in velvet,
Gems vying for significance
In a bed of sapphires.
Elsodonalay, the Gate of Heaven
Called such by Oufa
Given as a gift       to the god
By the craft-spiders       Scope and Hatan.
Jeweled-giants,       gem workers of skill.

She flew to it and
Paused in front       of that portal saying,
“I don’t know what       waits for me
Behind that door       daunting with its gems,
Yet open with       no obstacles or opponents.
It stands silent to my presences.
An open door is an offer,       an invitation.
I’ll cross the threshold       of that betreasured door
Whether death       or dire danger wait.”

She crossed the gate
And it thundered shut behind her.

Before her       bore a path
The clouds made hills on either side
Still white       while gathering gloom.
Above the stars had       started winking.
The moon was bright       and the road a river
With snowy banks       and visible vapor.

She tossed her head       and closed her wings.
Walking warily       to where she saw a sign
A way post       writ in runic scrawl
Topped by a sleeping honeybee.

“I cannot read       the writing,”
Ceber said,       “since it is not my letters.
The language of this land       is lost on me.
Hello,”       she tapped the honeybee.
“Sorry stranger       to wake you from sleep
But please read to me       where this road runs
As the speech of the sign       is strange to me.”

“Sorry,” said the bee       scratching its head.
“I cannot read.
Never learned my letters.
If the sign is honest it will say,
‘This way to       Wyrm-Wunian’
Twenty leagues       or twice as more
From there you can go any place,
From garden gate       to goddess’s glen.
Every place possible.”

“Why then make a road?”       the wasp asked.

“I am but a bee,       brave wasp,
A spirit of productivity,
Pathways are out of       my purview.”

Ceber thanked the bee       then began walking
Until the clouds cleared       to cut grass
And Oufa’s palace rose up before her
Like a needle threaded into the sky.
The park around       provided pleasantries
To various visitors       on vacation
Who would gaze       on the wonderful towers
Taking back with them       bare-truthed tales
About the awesome sight
Oufa had built at the top of the world.

Fifty waterfalls       fell around the fortifications
And iced in       incomparable splendor
Below on the mountain.

Crystal windows,       azure tiles,
Magisterial marvels       made to perfection.
Every balcony shown       bright and brilliant.

O! Never knowing       such a sight before
Much harried Ceber       momentarily hesitated
For her eyes dazzled       dazed in delight.
The mark of wonder       wide upon her face.

Curious Ceber       stopped to ask
An airy sprite       about the architecture.
This brave dragonfly       with eyes of brass
quoted,       “Quite a curious wonder, isn’t it?
In there the gods hold court
Calling the land to their whims.
Infinite Oufa       raised it from rock
Stepping into the sea       securing the chain
To haul his       heavy water-dripping prize up.
Once it was the       ornament of the orient
Built by the giant Time.
Destiny and Fate       followed his hands
But he gave them up to his issue:
The great Weaver Worms.
They worked against him,
Siding with the Sky Cracker,       Sunny Oufa,
Who stole the titan’s towers       up through the tides.
Like Lyr,       the luckless cuckoo wasp,
Time gave his children charge       over his kingdom
And they turned him out.       Traitors.”

Ceber sat       viewing the scene,
Until courage coaxed her       up to the castle
Where the watchman       waited.
Invincible HolHammas       square-headed harvester ant
Whose name means Hammer.
A earthen spirit       sworn to Essa.
Essa, Star-Painter       pallid beauty
Who called all Earth up to her service.

“Whoa, stranger!      State your name.
What you are named and where you were born.
If I find you       friend not foe
And honest without deceit
You may pass       into the palace.
But if you be       a broker of lies
I shall slay you       where you stand.”

Honest Ceber knew       her own heart
And replied,       “Your regal masters
May help me       in my quest.
Their daughter,       dangerous Takara
Has hurt me,       has harassed me.
I need counsel and their blessing.
Without their holy help,       I cannot succeed.
My name is Ceber       I come from Comely
And I am honest.”

HolHammas saw her       honesty and said,
“Your heart is true       your mouth follows it.
Head straight through the doors
My lady will know you.”

So Ceber walked in.

The inside as impressive       as the out.
The ceiling was high; bas-reliefs rose to meet it,
Torches touched every       tapestry with golden light.
Had I wider words       I would break the page
To place that palace       in plain sight
Stronger than the guidebook
To hit the senses and bowl them over.

The goddess grinned,       leaning in the hallway.
So like a wasp       with wide wings
Lace with dew,       lined with silver,
Lacquered in ebony.
Her diadem was the Crown of Heaven
Studded with sparkling       burning stars.
Her antennae were attentive       always waving.

Ceber kneeled,
“Milady,       I might be misled,
But I need your help.
Your daughter,       Takara of the Counting Clocks,
Has killed my family,
Driven me       from dry and wet lands,
Pursued me       across pasture and fields,
Murdered my friends,
rent wreck and       ruin upon my head.
I ask for help.       Honor me.
Goddess give me       the gift of insight
How to hold a goddess responsible.
I’ll accept any       action against me.
Any price, any punishment
If I can punish her.”

Enduring Essa answered,
“Ceber Starlight,       slaying a god
Is impossible for a mortal.
Yet your rage       can result revenge.
My daughter has       done much damage.
The world wearies       of her wars.
An infinitely clicking mind
Of great and small gears       grows a burden.
Her enemies       hate her.
She now has far more enemies than friends.
Fly to the crack of Heaven, brave Ceber.
Talk to the wise       Weaver Worms.
They will work       wonders for you.
Think of Takara       like a tarantula.
Go and fear no censure from the gods.”

“O!” Ceber said.       “I scarcely
Could conceive       of such fortune
Thank you gilded,       great goddess.
I will avenge my daughters.
I will fulfill my mandate.”

The Song of Ceber

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