[YC125 NECWC] - Akiga-Ilshisotas Ilket

((This is my entry into the poetry category for the Capsuleer Writing Contest. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the pre-contact Achur culture, which I’ve written about in previous contests [and which is the subject of a long-form novel I’ve been working on for three years now, being published in chapters over on Backstage]. These poems may be considered singly or as a whole. Hope you enjoy them! Please also note: I would additionally like these to be considered as relevant to “Caldari Culture”; however, due to my previous entries in the CWCs of YC121 and YC122, I do not want these poems to be considered for prizes.))

Akiga-Ilshisotas Ilket

(“Longing for the Lost Warmth of the Sun”)
Poems of the Oasis Temple of the Western Plateau, from before the Long Winter Period)

(Note: the following poems and literary fragments were recovered from the ruins of the Oasis Temple of the Western Dry Country, a trade outpost in what was a rocky desert plateau prior to the Long Winter Period. Archaeological expeditions undertaken during the post-contact assimilation of the Achura homeworld into the Caldari State recovered many of the historical records and cultural remnants from pre-historical Achur society, revealing a complex, highly developed network of religious orders, mercantile guilds, nomadic tribes, minor kingdoms, and nascent city-states. Recent scholarly research suggests that the Oasis Temple, and the market town that surrounded it, was abandoned only later in the onset of the Long Winter Period, its unique geographical situation protecting it from many of the environmental catastrophes that led to the collapse of other similarly sized settlements; nevertheless, while it was occasionally inhabited by nomads in subsequent periods, it was never fully rebuilt or permanently settled when the Long Spring Period made resettlement possible. The Oasis Temple is notable for its small but highly varied collection of literary materials, supporting its status as a waystation along several long-distance trade routes. Little else is known about the inhabitants of the town itself, and many of the language groups of the region remain untranslated, their records lost or scattered. The title of the collection is from the Caldari-language translation published in the Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute of the School of Applied Knowledge in YC32).

Out upon the smoking earth
the shadows carve lines,
black beyond sight,
against the blinding red:
bones of the sun,
laid to rest.

Along the walls of the valley
tucked away beneath the cliffs, for just a moment
you catch a glimpse of the iridescent rivers
flowing down like waterfalls, suspended
an impossible slowness and swiftness all at once,
the waters turn their course briefly to witness
the stillness of a passing summer, and return to their wandering.

Movement and un-movement,
eternity and an instant:
bones of the sun,
shrouded in the skin of the long-dead heavens
with an echo still deep in its throat,
coiled and waiting.

O spring rains!
A sea of grass transformed
azure and yellow, burning away my soul
to dust on the wind.

A dozen times, twenty, and I am unprepared.
Jewels of the earth, luminous as the heavens,

Everlasting seas, how could I not but lose myself
the songs of living carrying me.
The winds in the grasses, each kind a different song,
awakened the soul of spring, and the world
breathes in
and out.

O greatest Queen!
Beneath the starry crown
gilded robes, your sword and shield,
if I should renounce my longing, and lay it at your feet
an offering, my tribute,
I give you all that I have;
and nothing is lost in giving away
if I should gain the touch of your splendor.

The merchant caravan crosses the northern sands
a line of lanterns, swinging back
and forth.

They sit at the fire and tell stories
the first tellers of which they have forgotten,
long ago, when the world was young.

I remember our garden
the small fountain and the flowers you kept
intoxicating perfume
I am still drunk with it.

Even when I am so far away,
the gentle laughter in the courtyard
the ringing of the chimes in the wind
makes my heart ache.

If I should die
far from home.
Then you will find my bones
spread across the sands

Gather them up in your arms
and bring them back.
Bury me beneath the walls of my home
in the shade of the sandalwood tree
For this was always my place of rest
held in your arms

Holy temple
of the Eastern Mountain
the Gods Themselves must be jealous of your majesty
shining rose and green and white in the sun
Always and forever.

I tread the pathways
of a thousand saints
and pray at the altar of the Benevolent Wanderers
burn my offering
commend it to heaven
as my ancestors did.

They have faded into shadow,
but you remain,
always and forever.

I contemplate the images:
the Saints teaching the disciples
of the threefold Way;
the path to Heaven, guided by their wisdom
is rougher now, faded.

And now I see, that the altar is worn
away, where the monks would kneel.
I must weep, for I cannot say
if I am old, or you
or both
and the night must surely draw close
when the offerings are made
in an empty place,
silent and forgotten.

A thin line of water
sparkling in the sun.
A few small flowers
cling to the bank.

Where are your ancestors,
and how did you find this place,
so far from your homes?

How did you learn of the deep blue sea
and bring it here
to keep it a secret
so that I might find it?

The time of flowering is not yet come,
the hills are not yet ready
to sing their songs,
and so you must wait
a little longer.

Let us sit together,
like secret lovers
and dream together
of spring.

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