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Ring of Water
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Ring of Water

I


The kisses of my love were sweet as the dew; they fell upon me like the rain of Telperion. Her hair spread out like the night sky behind her; her eyes as bright as the stars of the Kindler. Her breath caressed like the wind that lifted the leaves of the Trees and dappled our skin with shadows. My love was a silver flower that blossomed, for the hours of our youth, in Valinor.

We danced together beneath the Trees, their radiance weaving in our hair, in harmony. Others may sing of their light, sing of their twilight mingling, but my songs shall be ever of the dewfall, and its taste upon your skin. Feiniel, I called you; Ninquelt - silver to my golden; my sister, my love.

'Come with me,' I told you. 'In the East we can be queens instead of servants.' And you did as I said and followed.

II


Gold was dimmed and silver tarnished and the ice bit cold and deep.

My love's eyes shone like the stars, and now they are wept sore. My love's skin was soft as breath, and now it has cracked raw. The tears that course down my love's face freeze, and the flesh there now is coarsened. Our numbed fingers raise our cairns - and we touch with hands unfeeling.

'You brought me here,' you said. Your lips bled as you said it, and we walked on as strangers. You slew yourself for your captor's son. It was as well that you were dead to me already.

III


In the hollow, in the twilight, I stand before the mirror and watch my daughter pass beyond the veil into the West. And I set my hand, in farewell, into the water, and it ripples and it settles about the jewel upon my finger. Adamant, diamond - which, they say, does not dissolve - still in its setting, holding back the tide... then beset again by ripples.

For there is no stopping the tears that fall, the voices rising in lamentation. There is no placating the pulse of the tide, it wears within without cessation. There is no conquering the march of time, and we live without hope of reconciliation. All we have wrought dissolves about us; all that remains is the war of attrition, the acts of contrition - wreck and ruin.

IV


With the rising of the moon comes the lifting of the veil. And the beacons on the quayside are drawing me inwards - to my mother, to my daughter, to my sister, my love, our voices lifting in communion:

"Praise to Nienna, whose tears wash us clean - salt-spray, Sea-spray, gifting forgiveness."

"Praise to Varda, whose stars guide the sailor, who brings the drifting ship home safe; may we dwell in her blessing, beneath her protection, all the hours of our life, in Valinor."

***

A belated birthday present for Deborah Judge. Go and read her wonderful fiction!

Thank you to Ithilwen, Celandine and Alawa for beta reading, and the denizens of Henneth Annn for fact-checking.

Altariel, August 2002

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