Where the Brook and the River Meet: The First Journey of Violet Bright
There is a place far beyond the front door, just past a weathered gate,
where Twilight dwells and whispered dreams patiently wait.
At the edge of a bluff, near deep throated roar of the sea,
there is a pathway, a door, where no ordinary door could be.
The place where the brook and the river meet, at a fork beside a stone,
beneath a great Alder tree, he, a keeper of all things known.
Yet this Alder, for all his knowings, pondered that odd door.
It was a question that echoed, as he stood guard upon that lonely shore.
A breeze set Alder's leaves whispering...Something's coming.
Someone had found the path, followed the waves' drumming,
as the shore curves away where the brook and the river meet.
A tern takes to wing as pebbles clatter beneath two small feet.
Naught but a girl, small in all ways, inky hair in coronet, braided tight,
she looked all around with a curious air, she, young Violet Bright.
To the left lay the woodlands, tree beyond tree, to the right, unbroken sea,
and straight ahead was the door, where no door could be.
Shadows of evening gathered, stars winking, blinking, waking...
Alder's question of Violet: What journey is it you are making?
Violet stilled as she looked at that great tree,
How can it query...speak...How could this be?
A face appeared in a gnarled old knot, a face, withered and dark.
Alder the Elder, he who offered shelter to the praying Lark.
Violet blinked, taken aback, this tree was a being, bright and alive
a being, so much more than leaves and a humming bee hive.
She looked at that face and down to her shoes.
To answer or not, how could she choose?
A flicker of doubt shone in her eye,
having come this far, it wouldn't hurt to try.
She thought the thought as only the small can do,
of her sister, Lily, wishing she could see this, too.
But Lily was frail and far from well,
and, Violet Bright had promised her a story to tell.
The leaves of Alder whispered and rippled,
A story for a child, ill, her heart crippled?
What better reason could there possibly be?
And curiously, up from Alder's roots, rose a key.
Violet, her eyes fixed upon the ground,
saw it, ornate and old, it had appeared without a sound.
It gleamed dimly in the star patterned light,
an answering twinkle came from the door to her right.
Small Violet Bright, she gathered up that key,
and took a step toward that door, where no door could be.
But the sea lay before her, a barrier, impossibly great...
until up bubbled an eagle ray, cousin to the skate.
All about him, waves burbled and broke,
sliding off his massive back, as rain does a cloak.
It occurred in an instant, an idea of reckless delight,
a mad, mad plan, had she, small Violet Bright.
Into the pocket of her pinafore she placed that key,
and hid her shoes where no one would see.
Barefoot and daring, she left the shore for the ray.
Upon his back, she rode, making for the door in the bay.
Waves lapped at her knees and tickled her toes
as the smell of salt tang and fish filled her nose.
That eagle ray carried her straight and true, across the sea,
bearing her out to the door, where no door could be.
The pair came abreast of that curious portal,
a door, untouched by all, but for one daring mortal.
Small Violet rose to her feet, balanced and light.
For Lily, she thought, her courage, a beacon bright.
Into that pocket her fingers crept,
winnowing through the treasures, Violet had kept.
Three lumps of sugar, a tangle of ribbon, a shell and a milkweed seed.
Odd things, small things, items no one would ever need.
And finally there at the bottom, she found it at last,
that key, to unlock the future and reveal the past.
Stowing her treasures away once more,
small Violet Bright, introduced that key to that door.
Two pieces off a puzzle, old friends long parted and lost.
Violet turned that key round, her curiosity the toll and cost.
So it was, the knob was turned, finally that door unlocked,
and Violet, upon that ray, wondering if she should've knocked.
This was the door, where no ordinary door could be,
bleached bone white and hovering just above the sea.
Small, cold fingers rapped twice, as was polite,
and when no answer came, Violet gripped that knob tight.
Slowly, she turned it round once more,
while Alder waved encouragingly from the shore.
The tide shifted as sea beneath the ray began to rise,
lifting Violet up, adding needed inches to her small size.
Feet even with the bottom of that door,
Violet Bright cast a final glance at Alder's shore.
With a wave and wish and a small little hop,
she open that door, and beyond it she saw the world drop.
Stars shone where the sea and land should be,
and above, starfish glittered in an upside down sea.
Over that threshold and off the ray, Violet stepped,
and lifted her eyes to this place of Strangeways, kept.
With a splash and patter, she heard something breach,
Looking up, Violet saw the creature, just out of reach.
With the of a face of an angel and tail of a fish,
she was as fantastic a beast as one could wish.
A mermaid, of all things, suspended from an upside-down sea.
That mermaid, she smiled, at Violet, there in the lee.
With a friendly wave she nodded, toward a small cloak,
Violet blinked, wondering if this was some sort of joke.
Hanging from a brass hook beside the door,
Violet took the cloak as she cast a final glance at the shore.
A dark mottled grey, soft and warm, it was a pleasing cape.
against the wind it provided Violet a much need escape.
About her head, she drew that hood,
and with it donned a power, seldom understood.
Just like with Alder, now too, there was a voice in her head.
That cape allowed Violet to hear what that mermaid said.
Come, come and play, Small Violet Bright,
for that cloak you wear is a treasure of wondrous might.
From the waves, the cold, the dark, it will shield,
if to its temptation and care, you dare to yield.
But know this, little one, and know it well,
that cloak can be used but once, so says the spell.
For it is the coat of a Morph, a Selkie, in fact,
from a girl to a seal, and once more, back.
Young Violet Bright, needed no further urging,
'Round her she cast the cloak, a seal, swiftly surging.
Into the waves, up, up, up, to the bottom, she went,
bravely seeking, the story, for which she had been sent.
Jellies and rays, dolphins and skates, followed calling,
all the while, Violet swam as to the land she was falling.
Sponges and corals in their countless colours bright,
as Violet cleaved the waters, flippers swaying left to right.
Up became down, down was once up, true north lost,
but for Violet, this didn't seem a very frightening cost.
All around was a sea of breathing, billowed wonder,
the answer to the questions of what could be under...
Squid and octopi squelched and darted, jetting down into the black,
where blue lights shown, from creatures, crimson front to back.
Eyes larger than they should be, peered through the deep cobalt cold,
straight into Violet's heart, seeking the truth of the secret she did hold.
Violet felt the stab of the probing eyes, as she gave chase to a rare spiralling star,
a fluid rainbow, twining counterpoint to the current, beckoning the Selkie from afar.
With a fearsome tug, Violet paddled after the light, back and forth, left to right.
Faster, faster, and faster still, forward, onward into the deep, questing for light.
Flying down, yet the black was conceding to midnight and silvered azure, now,
pressure broke, Violet surged, bubbles cloaking, racing for the surface, but how?
Topsy-turvy, circumference and corners gone, no right way to be had,
Small Violet Bright wondered if she was dead or simply running mad.
A burning pressure began to ache deep in her chest,
and Violet knew she need air, some place to rest.
A sudden motion to the right, a flutter, a gleam of silvered speed,
it was the mermaid, having felt Violet's growing need.
In a billowing cloud of gathering bubbles, they began to rise,
chasing the gathering brightness that seem to draw all eyes.
Two heads breached the surface, a sea of gun metal grey,
The sun, low on the horizon, but was it the start or end of day?
In the distance thunder roared, deep and boding, warning
of danger, perhaps a storm, come the first or last star of morning.
The mermaid kept down, her nose just above the roll of a wave,
looking for the creature only this child could save.
Again they heard the bellow, as a lion winged, leapt into flight.
Wings beat, sending ripples dancing in the downdraft's might.
Violet's snout crinkled, wrinkled scenting the teeming air.
Iron, bronze, stone, salt--and breeze, tinged with hay and hair.
A grouping of stones, silhouetted, reaching to the deepest heart of the sea.
Spiralling, left, right forming a round--and Violet knew what they could be.
With the lion shrinking into the gathering light, Violet heaved onto a stone.
The mermaid whispered: 'From here you must find the path on your own.'
Nodding to the collection of stones, slowly spinning, a continuous round.
'These are the Stepping Stones, a place where the Lost become the Found.'
'There is one here, long under the guard of Nine, the lion now in flight--'
'A creature, the very last of his kind, waiting for you, small Violet Bright.'
Violet blinked, still being a seal, she had no words, nothing to say.
The mermaid smiled. 'Worry not, you are Selkie, you will find a way.'
'You are of the earth, the sea, and sky--Violet Bright you have to try.'
'Just as I am forbidden to reveal the how, the who, or even the why.'
Now young Violet Bright hauled out of the waves and onto the stones.
Still a seal, sleek and grey, she listened to the sea, a song in her bones.
Deftly, that salt breeze tinged with the sweet smell of newly cured hay,
found its way beneath that pelt, stealing the seal’s mask away.
A tendril, damp and sticky with salt, whipped about her face,
startling Violet, recalling her to the present and very odd place.
A puzzle and no answers to be had, where was she even to begin?
Her thoughts were haring, hither and yon, her knees a prop for her chin.
A habit of old drew her hand down, down to the pocket of her pinafore.
The cotton, stiffened by salt, still held the items she brought from the shore.
Three lumps of sugar, a shell, a tangle of ribbon, and a milkweed seed.
Of these useless treasures there was only one she knew would do the deed.
With a touch tender with wonder, she drew forth an ancient conch shell--
A treasure, worn and carved, Violet had found it in the bucket of the well.
Now cradled in her small palms, she looked at it anew, this was a key—
Part of the riddle, too, the key to a path in this place of stone and sea.
A tern shrieked, as far below, the deep bass of whale song sounded.
It was a verse old as the world, a melody, which in Violet resounded.
So as she had seen in that worn mariner’s book, she lifted the shell—
And blew, bright and sweet, a voice calling to the blood of her Kell.
Call it magic, call it might—but something awoke in small Violet Bright.
So she played a song of tides and woe, a symphony winging into night—
The stone, upon which she perched, lurched and heaved into a whirl.
Barefoot, to the tune she warbled, Violet began a lively swirling, twirl.
By reel and jig, she danced, waltzing and swirling on the brink of the sea.
Her stone was drawn forward taking small Violet where she needed to be.
On a final, trilling litany, she brought the refrain to a gentle, speaking end.
And before her eyes, stood the Bicorn, a creature who had never known a friend.
Eye to eye, they faced each other, blue to gold, young to very, very terribly old.
From her pocket, small Violet took a lump of sugar, made a move—very bold.
Palm open, gaze calm, to that Bicorn bound, she held out the proffered treat.
The great black head dipped, sniffed, snuffled and very tenderly began to eat.
With a muffled chuff, he nuzzled her hand, fingers to his muzzle—understand.
Those fingers, deft and light, had Harbinger free, hooves pawing at the sands.
Those golden horns, in deference bowed, to the kindness of small Violet Bright.
A hank of mane, wound round her hand, she clambered astride, settling light.
The great ebon Bicorn, coat all a’ flicker, a legend tense, sidled and pranced,
as overhead, unknown constellations wheeled, twinkled, winkled—danced.
And brave Violet Bright, she dug in a toe—Go! My friend! Harbinger, go!
Cloven hooves struck out across sands, racing away while the Tide was low.
Fleet feet flying o’er the cobalt bars, Violet Bright clinging with all her might.
Alder’s Dew erupted into sight, and Violet cast that milkweed seed into flight.
Onto the shaft of a moonglade, through the pool of the Moon, casting his light.
A new constellation of fabled might glowing, so to guard sleeping Violet Bright.