Monday, January 13, 2014

Month of Poetry #13: For Digory

Back to Narnia today, this time with a poem for Digory Kirke, the protagonist of The Magician’s Nephew and later the Professor of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I seem to be mostly picking out the characters who face moral dilemmas of one sort or another :-) I’ve deliberately stopped the poem before Digory learns that Aslan is, in fact, going to save his mother. I think it’s a lot more powerful when he makes the choice believing it to be final.

For Digory

flying to a mountainous garden aback a newly-winged horse
over country seething with magic, sent by a talking lion
(who, perhaps, isn’t quite) -

well, it’s not the sort of thing you expect to happen, is it.

not what you look for, when you’re locked into a journey composed mostly of antiseptic smells, grief and daily misery.
but when you make a mess, I suppose you ought to clean it up.
and God knows, the Empress of Charn and my disgraceful uncle are a deep enough mess to need fixing.

so when he said, go, get me an apple, I thought -
well, if an apple’s what you want, I will – 

besides, Polly said she’d come, and that was a comfort to me.

he rather neglected to mention, though,
exactly what the properties of said apple might be
which left me vulnerable, as it happened, to a blood-mouthed witch dropping arsenic-laced honey in my ear
eternal life , she said, but that one wasn’t terribly hard to shake off -
who wants to live forever, anyway -

but then – healing for your mother – and I felt like I’d been punched in the lung
the thing I searched for, and had given up on
the promise of wholeness to exchange for my ashes -

Polly, sturdy, told me it was a trick, but left me to choose
it wasn’t, after all, her mother.

damn that lion. damn him and his inscrutable tasks

but then -

but then -

find your heart’s desire and find despair
(besides, the witch-queen thought to leave Polly behind. a bad mistake on her part, that.)

so, all right. I’ll take it to him
this apple that smells like the heart of the sun
give it him to guard the insouciance of this idyll
I said I would, so I will

and try not to think -
not now, not ever -
of a white faced woman dying in a dreary back bedroom in London -

you can’t have everything, I suppose
even when magic gets snarled into your life
even then.

- Kathy, 13/1/14

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