“Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is based onthis poemby Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.”
Leisbeth crooned to her pet dragon, Brand. She had raised him from when he was nothing but a babe, pushing his way out of his golden egg.
Brand would never be a huge dragon, but he was worth a lot of money to many people. His scales, his wings, and his teeth were valuable so Leisbeth protected him. She cared for his wounds from hunting for large animals and after locals injured him.
Despite being gentle, Leisbeth could be fierce. She knew she was fragile, but she possessed a gift, sorcery not even Brand knew she possessed.
In turn, Brand was Leisbeth’s protector. He knew she was a soft woman, her voice small and melodic. Her hands uncalloused and her long blond hair shiny and flowing. All these traits of beauty put her in danger.
She knew nothing of the cruel world, that men spilled blood, both dragon and human for small amounts of silver. Brand still remembered the screams of his dragon parents slaughtered, as he fought his way from his golden egg. He was tiny then, but he remembered their terrified roars.
However, Liesbeth had saved him so they would always be together. Brand would protect her inherit gentleness while she would guard him with her magic. Those who would hurt her intelligent companion would regret it.
To Leisbeth, Brand was her friend who in private, loved to be held and stroked. Both their abilities would keep the other alive for thousands of years.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this month’s fairy Tale prompt. The prompt is: “imagine an evil force be it witch or some other dark force has cast a spell on you. What form does the spell take, are you frozen in time as in the above image? Are you cursed in a different way?”
Berjlot was a pretty girl with her father’s white-blond hair and her mother’s curls. She also had her mother’s mysterious green-eyes and delighted the entire viking village with her presence.
Asta, Berljot’s mother, had been in labour for hours the night Berjlot was born. The baby wouldn’t come out so Astab finally told her husband Bjarke that he must allow the midwife to cut her belly open and save their babe.
Bjarke felt great pain in his heart when his wife asked him to do allow the midwife to cut the baby out. But he knew he could not lose both Asta and the baby and survive himself.
Cutting the baby out (a much worse version of a c-section) was newer concept which the village midwife had suggested hesitantly. There wasn’t anything to help Asta from the pain but some whiskey. She drank all she could and screamed in pain as her baby Berjlot was born.
Asta named her child Berjlot or “Light will save,” and soft light was exactly what Asta saw as she entered Valhalla. She bled out before the midwife could attempt to stitch her up. Chances were Asta would have died from infection anyways.
Bjarke held his little girl Berjlot proudly. She was his and Asta’s last child, her four-older brother’s were nearly men. But the baby girl was a light to her father and helped him survive the loss of his wife Asta (“divine beauty”).
Bjarke whose name meant “bear” was indeed, built like a bear and so were his four sons. They helped their father fell logs. Bjarke was now considered an older man and he would need the help of his son’s to survive.
He had a been a great ship builder but was now arthritic and in pain. He spent most of his time keeping his eye on little Berjlot who spent her days enchanting those around her, a light to the entire community.
Some of the other women taught Berjlot the necessities of life as a viking woman. Berljot seemed to easily learn how to sew and cooked delicious meals. She also helped with the shearing of sheep and weaving clothe.
Berjlot’s mother Asta, had also been an accomplished artisan so Berjlot learned the craft of jewelry making from an old women in the village named Ragna (“giving advice”).
As well as crafting fine jewelry, Ragna was a medicine women and a pagan witch. Most people were afraid to be near her but Berjlot had no choice as she was the only other women who knew her mother Asta’s craft of jewelry making.
She was a talented girl and Ragna, seeing her youth, beauty, and the skill with which Berjlot seemed to accomplish every task, became seethingly jealous of the girl. Even at her young age and artisan skill level, Berljot’s jewelry was sought after.
She was only ten-summers but Ragna was envious of the girl she knew would grow up to be a beautiful woman and likely out rank her being from a powerful family.
The witch had always despised the girl’s mother Asta for her goddess-like beauty and her gift of creating beautiful jewelry of better quality than Ragna’s designs.
One day when Berjlot had a cough, Ragna, playing the kindly old woman she always played around Berjlot said to her:
“Poor dear, I will make you a potion which will rid of you of your awful cough. We can’t have it get into your lungs. Bjarke would be devastated if he lost his only daughter.”
Berjlot accepted the purplish potion Ragna wanted her to drink. It smelled awful and smoke whirled from the earthen cup but the girl drank the potion trusting Ragna as her Oma.
Suddenly, Berjlot hiccuped. She felt a strange sensation as her body changed from that of girl into a stunning light-haired wolf. She knew her father and brothers would never recognize her in this form and so did Ragna.
Berjlot cried the tears of a wolf and old Ragna laughed at her. She made it appear as if a wolf had eaten Berjlot.
“Bjarke,” Ragna cried. “A light-haired wolf ate your daughter. See? I have her bloodied and torn dress here. There was nothing I could do.” Ragna wept and made it appear as if she was broken-hearted at losing Berjlot.
Bjarke was devastated. Berjlot was the light of his life and his health failed rapidly after losing his daughter. He was soon set out down the nearby river in his funeral pier set aflame to join his wife Asta.
Bjarke’s oldest son Dag took over the boat building business with his three brothers and his best friend Asmund (“Divine Protection”). After they had spent time in mourning for their father they and the other men from their settlement, went into the woods and destroyed all the wolves they could find –even the pups. They never forgot about their little sister Berjlot who had brought such joy wherever she went.
Eight-years passed. Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were prosperous men in their viking community building ships and amassing a great amount of land and wealth. Asmund, in particular, was considered a fine catch for marriage but had not found a wife to his liking; Dag and his brothers had already married well.
Asmund was out walking in the forest one night when he saw the most striking female wolf beneath a tree in the moonlight. She had mossy green-eyes which were extremely unusual for a wild animal such as a wolf.
He was surprised when the wolf jumped on him when he wasn’t paying attention. He was set to bring his small ax down on the wolf when she lay down on top of him gently and peered at him with sad eyes. She talked as wolves did, pawing at him, trying to get Asmund to understand something through her barks. He laughed and petted the beautiful wolf as she slept on him.
The next morning Asmund awoke and the wolf was gone. He thought he’d only dreamed of her. When he went for a walk in the forest several nights later, he again saw the same beautiful wolf.
She playfully tackled him to the ground and barked at him, trying to make him understand her wolf song. When that failed, she lay her head beneath his chin, and slept on top of him as before.
The light-haired and green-eyed wolf barked and slept with Asmund every night he came out into the woods, always burying her nose under his chin.
One night, Ragna the old witch noticed Asmund asleep with the wolf she knew was Berjlot, snuggled half on top of him. The witch plotted to kill Berjlot once and for all and told Berjlot’s oldest brother Dag about the strange looking wolf she’d seen around the forest.
Dag and his younger brothers went to find and kill Berjlot the following night with Asmund. But when they found the wolf with the light-fur and moss green- eyes, Asmund begged them not to kill her.
He told Dag the light-haired wolf had become his pet and was docile. Berjlot approached her brother Dag and bowed, she did any trick her brother or his bestfriend Asmund told her to do.
When wicked Ragna saw the brothers had not killed Berjlot in wolf form (and instead, were going to adopt her as a kind of pet) she ran out to kill Berjlot with her sharpest knife. Ragna poisoned the tip of the knife so even if it nicked Berjlot the wolf, it would kill her.
Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were shocked to see the old witch after the wolf they had befriended. They caught and disarmed Ragna before she harmed the wolf. When Ragna was disarmed she turned to run back to her cottage but Berjlot jumped on her, tearing out the witches throat.
Immediately, the light-haired green-eyed wolf turned into a young woman of about eighteen. She was beautiful with her long wavy-blond hair, exotic green eyes, and white skin. Dag’s three younger brothers immediately recognized their sister from her moss green-eyes.
“Berjlot is that you?” They asked, overjoyed to see their sister alive.
“Yes it’s me,”Berjlot said crying. She hugged her brothers, including Dag. They were a bit sensitive about her being naked with Asmund around. He generously gave Berjlot his cloak to cover herself with.
“The witch Ragna pretended to be my Oma,” she told the men gathered. “Ragna was jealous that I was prettier than her, and that our mother Asta was prettier than her too. She hated that I did all my tasks well, especially jewelry making. When I had a cough, she gave me a steaming purple potion. I trusted her and drank the potion and she turned me into a wolf.”
“That’s terrible,” Dag shouted, angry for his sister. “Your death is the reason our father became ill and died. I’m sure the gods are pleased you ripped out the witch’s throat.”
Berjlot sobbed upon hearing about her father’s death. When Asmund comforted her with a hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him with adoration in her eyes.
“I was almost killed when the men from the village wiped out all the wolves but somehow I thrived, even as a wolf. I thought I would always be a wolf until I saw Asmund one night.” Berjlot blushed when she said Asmund’s name.
“Each night Asmund came out to the forest, I pounced on him and tried to tell him what happened to me, but my words only came out as barks or noises as a dog would make. But he kept coming back almost every night and I slept with my nose snuggled beneath his chin.”
“Is this true?” Dag asked his best friend whose face reddened when he gazed at Berjlot in his cloak.
“Yes, it’s true,” Asmund admitted. “I fell for Berjlot. Somehow the gods made me see how noble and beautiful she was even as a wolf. She’s an even more beautiful woman then she was a wolf.”
“I would be honored if you would allow your best friend and partner in business, to be a husband to your beloved sister,” Asmund asked. To him Berjlot was a light he could not live without in his life. He loved her as a wolf and more so as a woman.
Dag and his brother’s huddled together talking while Berjlot stared anxiously at Asmund. She came up to him and snuggled her head beneath his chin, showing her affection and gaining Asmund’s comfort.
“At last, I get to see you in my human form,” Berjlot told Asmund. Both lovers were overcome and wanted to do much more than stand not touching but for Berjlot’s hair cushioning Asmund’s chin.
Dag and his three other brother’s broke from their meeting with happiness. They agreed Asmund would be the perfect husband for their sister because he loved her and watched out for her, even when she was only a beautiful wolf. Thus, they set the betrothal date to that moment and day.
Asmund offered up sheep for wool and jewels as a dowry for Berjlot and they married in a magnificent ceremony in the village. The gods had allowed Berjlot to return from the dead and for two powerful families to be joined in marriage with days of feasting and celebration for the whole community.
Both Asmund and Berjlot lived happily ever after (as best as you could in that time and place).
Joshua saw his Papa going out to the brick shed. He saw that Papa left the door ajar. He knew Papa and Nana would be mad at him for taking a look inside the shed, but Joshua couldn’t help but peek.
Joshua gazed in awe in the shed. There was an elephant inside, chained up by his leg.
Terrified brown eyes stared down at Joshua as Joshua placed his hands gently on the elephants trunk and started to pet him. The elephant closed his eyes in delight. Joshua whispered to the elephant that he would come back and set it free. He also named the elephant George.
Later, when Nana and Papa thought he was asleep, Joshua went on his phone and called his Dad, who was in disbelief. Everyone went out to the shed the next morning, Papa laughing at Joshua’s suggestion that he was keeping an elephant locked inside.
Papa hesitated opening the door and Joshua’s Dad took the key from Papa. To Joshua’s Dad’s surprise when he opened the shed, a great elephant stared down at him sadly. Joshua went and hugged George before his Dad could stop him.
The police and a special vet from the zoo were called out to Papa and Nana’s farm and George was set free. Once his chain had been cut off, George trumpeted and began to flap his ears. He waved his head joyfully.
“How could you do this, Dad?” Joshua’s Dad asked Papa.
“It was something beautiful that I could keep.” Papa admitted. “I never wanted him to leave and I could never let him free because someone would know.”
Joshua’s Dad shook his head at Papa. “Dad, an elephant isn’t meant to be held captive and he needs to be with other elephants.”
Later, Joshua’s parents took him to visit George at the zoo. “Is George free?” Joshua asked his Dad. “Yes, unlike Papa and Nana,” Joshua’s Dad replied. ” George will never be a wild elephant but he’ll be happier at the zoo with other elephants around.”
Joshua watched George play, happy George had elephant friends.
“Hey girly. Such a good girl. How about a belly rub? Last one for a few months, I’ve got to go fight some bad guys. Seems as if there is an unending supply of them. That’s life, eh Emmie?” my Dad Dylan says.
Then, he kisses my Mom Kristine.” It’s going to be alright, Kristy. You know how well we’re trained for these missions. I’ll be back in a few months sweetheart. Email me, you can write me an old-fashioned letter even.”Dylan remarks soothing Kristine.
“What if this is the time . . . I never see you again, and it’s only Emmie and I? I’ve only had five-years with you. It’s not enough.”
Dylan hugs Kristine tight and they both cry. I feel their sadness and cuddle between them to comfort us all. I whimper and I lick their salty hands.
“Emmie, you sucky girl. I’ll be home before you know it,” Dylan tells me giving me one last pet and kissing Kristine hard.
“Don’t go Dad, don’t leave us. Mom’s sad, I don’t want her to be sad. You didn’t walk me today. Mom will be too sad to walk me….” I yap to Dylan. But he leaves.
Ages pass before I hear Dylan whistle. I bark in delight; he came home.
I’m sitting cross legged in the middle of a grassy hill at the park on Saturday as I meditate and observe. People walk their dogs and the occasional cat. They walk in couples and families, some complete with strollers of bawling twins. There are those who stroll, those who amble, and those who power walk, their arms swinging absurdly.
Runners zip inbetween the walkers to keep up their pace. Dogs being walked on their leash on the paved trail, happily jump on the runners for a sniff and to say hello with curiousity. A runner does not know if a particular dog is friends or foe. It is easiest for them to keep their distance in the hub-bub of trail traffic. But one runners can’t help but laugh as a furry dog lavishes him with friendly dog kisses.
On the off leash trails I wander now, and dogs run free chasing each other, it’s all a glorious canine game. Cyclists come racing, tearing down the gravel trails on their bikes with bells to warn people of their presence. They don’t appear to realize these gravel and wood chip trails are built for the dogs and their humans.
Go back to the paved trails in the park you cyclists. Some dogs are frightened by cyclists and may lunge at them. Cyclists are too loud (as are the rollerbladers) for many dogs and they could get hurt (along with the cyclist) if cyclists remain in the dogs’ zone of unleashed freedom on the off leash trails.
Children run around back in the grass in the park, playing fantasy and make believe with invisible friends. A playground is full of small children swinging, jumping, and sliding in bliss.Giggles and laughs decorate the air. An entire conversation happens between young Mackenzie and her invisible friend Charlie.
A Mom yells to her toddler, “Come back,” as he nears a volleyball match in session. I watch with interest as the match takes place in an area of sand and I pause to watch the match finish, team blue is victorious!
I sit back on the grass under a tree and watch the clouds slowly moving cotton puffs in the sky. A tired dog approaches me and I sit on lush green grass and pet his baby-soft black fur. I miss this, the closeness of woman and dog. This peace of humanity and animals, in the park, is what I call harmony — as close to it as we can hope for on earth.