The Verse

by Ash Krafton

 

star light

star bright

first star to give me sleight

 

I cast my spell this very night

and, though I cast it very well,

‘twould seem it did not turn out right.

The verse was right, as I can tell

the spell surpassed most any curse

I might have learned before; my past

a tutelage gifted from my nurse,

the strength and knowledge I’d amassed

ensured my fortune would unfold

in just the way that I had planned.

I scryed the Fates, who felt my need

and pledged their power to my plight.

All I needed was the light—

a drop of silver from the star

that first would wink its eye this night.

 

The moon was hidden ‘neath a shell

of blackest clouds. So deep and inky was the night

I had to strain my eyes, my sight made murky

by shadows of the heart. I passed

outside when churchly bells cried “Midnight!”

Upon my back, a heavy purse

that held the charms, the books, the knife

I needed to make magic swell

and rise and glow and take its flight.

A candle lit, I found the page, the needed verse.

This tripartite from days of old

was written by an infidel

whose passion, like a furnace, burned

intention into every word.

It would see my deed done right.

 

I rang a simple silver bell

to call the spirits to my side.

My circle drawn, I raised my eyes

and scanned the skies with lips upturned.

And there! At last! The night’s first star

peeked out at me. Its soft-spun light

dripped silver threads upon the words

and magic made them glow. The bright

flash fire of spell unfurled and cast

the magic far and wide like butterflies

from hell. I closed my eyes and sighed

relief. For only once that spell could pass

the lips of someone with the Sight

and watching sparks and embers burn

ensured me that I’ve cast it well.

 

In gratitude, I sought the star

that graced me with its precious light,

its power. I wished to thank it well,

perhaps to pluck it from the sky

and store it in a sacred urn

where, thus revered, I’d quell

all thoughts that I could be expelled

from my earthly dark delight.

But that star was now obscured, outshined

by another. Fright and terror now seized hold

upon my breath. My universe

fragmented into shattered shards

and screaming, I splintered from sight.

 

Now, a dank abyss shall hold

me fast, with all my broken parts.

The Fates had not been paid their price

when, unknowingly, I fed them light

from not the first but second star.

It turned the spell toward far worse

a task. Instead of granting me my life

eternal on this earth, steadfast,

the spell reversed and toward me turned

and burned to dust my heart, my life.

 

Star light,

star bright.

You destroyed me out of spite.

 

Pushcart Prize nominee Ash Krafton’s work has appeared in Absent Willow Review, Mad Scientist Journal, Expanded Horizons, Silver Blade, and Bete Noire. She’s also the author of novel-length fiction, including the Demimonde trilogy as well as The Heartbeat Thief (under the pen name AJ Krafton). She’s a member of SFPA and resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region with her family and bossy German Shepherd dog.

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