Friday, July 25, 2014

Sketch by Sketch

This fantasy prose poem (or vignette) was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Rose Red Review. It's about a fairy who wishes to become human, but is regretful when it actually happens.


Sketch by Sketch
by Jason Sturner

These I have drawn: a hillside of moonlit clover; creeks cradled by swaying heather; a forest beyond the crumbling stone walls of a pasture. And all just to get home; I’ve been gone so very long.

You might find me in the green layers beyond the sunless core of town, sidestepping the coiled corpses of men’s dreams, crossing industrial rivers where mechanical beasts gnaw on adolescent hearts.

For here dwell the kith of my childhood: the salamander, fox, jackdaw and deer; even the sheep—his dull eyes forever sliding along my heels. Old friends are the mosses and ferns, the spirits of pollen, the ghosts of tree rings. All under the watchful eye of Pan.

As a youth I was enamored with mortals, would sketch them on peeled birch bark and hardened flows of sap. I read book after book about their adventures, dreamt of their heroes and maidens, envisioned hordes of treasure behind castle walls. To me, the human soul mirrored endless romance and wonder. Man dared dream of anything; it dared dream of us.

O how I longed to dance and love and sketch wildly among them! To escape the confines of Pan’s wild domain—to posses a soul!

Such desires led to secrecy, to a thousand sketches wrought in the abandoned swamps where not even the banshee will go. Over time, and at the pace of a snail’s whisper, the leaves of my face turned autumn and blew away. My wings shriveled and fell. I had somehow willed myself, sketch by sketch, into the abrasive, mortal light of Man.

Alas, the humans were not as I had expected. Romance played almost no role in courtship or marriage. Foreign to me was hunger, pain, deep sadness. Strange and worrisome were science and religion. Hardship overcame me, and I reached out to the snickering god of apathy.

Soon my eyes turned the colour of winter. I broke apart as a flower petal in a storm. I do not know if I ever gained a soul.

But despite my disappointment, one simple comfort remained: my ability to sketch. Yet now I refuse to draw anything related to man or his dead dreams. Instead I lose myself in the mossy wood and wild heath, desperate to reveal the music and landscapes of my youth. Always I am trying my best to get the details just right. It is all I can do. I am at the mercy of human imagination.

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