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The Belly Moon

The Owl King's wife is carrying the moon. It waxes within her, surrounded by a blood-black cosmos that is starred with dreams and hopes. Its bones are made from her blessings. Owl silence guides its shape. The Owl King's wife is pregnant with the old country magic of love.

Come night, sparrows and wild horses take her down to the forest lake. Rose petals, fern fronds, drift on the waters - the Owl King has ordered the birds to do this, for nothing is too beautiful for his wife. He has procured honey and cream soap for her to wash with. She lays in the fragrant dark lake as if it is a sky in which the moon can grow, and she cleanses the day from her skin. Dirt specks, difficult moments, hard-edged words. They float away; she becomes soft again. Every night she does this to prevent cracks in her skin as it stretches; cracks in her soul. She is waxing like the moon, like her child: she is growing to motherhood.

And the Owl King sits on the highest branch in the forest and watches the world. He watches long and watches slow, pretending he has some power over this situation, but feeling as vulnerable as a feather caught in a storm. For no one knows better than he there is no netting the moon.

As night tips tendered into morning, the Owl King's wife goes to sleep water-scented and soft amongst alyssum, with badgers for her guard. She dreams of nebulae full of wonderment as the child stirs. She has the moon beneath her heart, the earth against her skin. She is a universe.

Married to the Owl King

He brings her flowers and the tiny sweet secrets of mice. He takes off his crown of oak-branch and star-bit, sighing as the weight leaves him, and he lays down slow and soft beside her in the moonlight. She has loved him since a morning in May, when the trees were fatly flowered and little birds leapt into his long black gaze. When he turned that gaze on her, she was caught. 

But perhaps she had gone to the forest wanting capture. She does not remember. It does not matter at all. He has her, gold ring and signed register, heart and soul.

She is like a bird herself, quiet and lithely dreaming of sunlight - and knowing at any moment he might swallow her. When she says this to him he agrees, and yet he answers in turn that she could fly away from him, out of his forest, where he can not follow. The words falter as if his heart is breaking at the very thought. Even though his eyes are so dark. His mouth so brittle. Who knows what he might do. Uncertainty is the only sure thing when married to the Owl King. Soft feathers, blood-stained claws.

He says she must be made of wild roses and the evening song of sparrows. He says if they opened his gizzard they would find there all the bones of her words. By this, she thinks he loves her. By his cold smile, she remembers though those claws. 

Her mother calls to offer an escape route - come out of the forest, she pleads; come back to the warm walled world. Her friends shake their heads worriedly - you are going to get eaten up, spit out. Black bryony will grow from your body left scattered amongst tree roots.

But she has seen him in flight. Beneath the soar of moon-white wings, in the deeps of night-black eyes, with the forest singing around her and the owl's sensuous silence, she has wed herself utterly, freely, madly, to the wild in him. 

illustration by susan seddon blouet

The Moon Hare Carries Away Winter

In the night a hare was leaping like the last white song of winter over darkened hills. It had a smile in its eyes, shining, brightly shining. It had the moon hanging from its long left ear, swinging, slowly swinging. And the moon was shadowed with hare memories of wild grass, warm earth. And the smile was a tale untold. And where the hare leapt, flowers grew - small heirlooms of the winter, given over to the new season.

In a house in quiet darkness, a woman was watching the lyrical turn of the world. She had stars in her tea and honey in her comfortable silence. And the honey stuck to her tongue like old bee dreaming. And the tea tasted wild. In the morning she would go out to gather white flowers, grieving winter, and when she came home she would leave the door open to let summer in.

the beautiful illustration is by karen davis
karen's weblog inspired the mood for the story,
but this picture was found after the story was written.

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