Away beyond shrouded levellands and far across sounding waters
An aged stone tower broods atop cragged wilderheights.
Turrets breach the swirling surface of twilight
Where autumn's sheltering sky is coolest.
A black moon sulks, sibylline, overhead.
Light splinters off the edge of its sable sphere
To silhouette mongrel clouds scrambling past.
Smoke remnants prowl from the vault of a lofty portal
And are raked by snarling winds that flee a rising storm.
Below, the ancient must of moss dighted rock
Embalms forest crambles littering the tower's cloistral garth.
Yet the gossamer smell of enchantment lingers nigh,
Censing night's claim upon granite slabs now soust in shadow.

Within, the lithic chamber's crescent walls are limned
In imagery begotten by the amber firelight
And marbled from the lambent glow of candles anointing chiseled ambries.
On one side, encased in graven thorns of arching scrollwork,
A great sweep of summoning glass hangs, veiled, of mantic obsidian. 
The massive hearth's sibilant warmth climbs a woad strown mantle,
Sliding through pendent skeins of herbs and flowers
To spiral upwards into cobwebbed darkness.
A centric dais, wed to a henge of hewn stone,
Abides the clutter of magic tumbled o'er its slated altar.
This treasure of potions, unguents and tinctures
Possesses the sultry air with cryptic attars that elude sundry vials and vessels.
And the chrismal weight of mystery haunts the bower's ebony fringe.

In the clutch of a shadow, a chair of elderwrought wood stands.
Its oaken limbs, carved with runic glyphs, are draped in heirloom tapestries.
A bewitching woman curls upon this vested seat.
Her sylphan body is corseted in bead-embroidered satins
And lavished by the cascade of tousled velvets that enfold her jeweled feet. 
Her scribed flesh quivers in the glancing inglelight as she muses,
Ringclad fingers idly working knots from her wildborne hair.
Outside the tower, a tremescent storm brews
And bestirs the ambient quietude within.
She rises, hearkening, to maunder hither
Where she clasps wanton tresses into a silver circlet at her nape.
Great lengths of unruly locks tangle
In the tasseled bindings of her following skirts.

The Alchemistress hunkers o'er a ragged chaldean tome,
Her limbic eyes pale in the guttering candlelight.
Virescent liquids roil nearby and the alembic flames echo 
From crystalline amulets laced above her brocade bodice.
Her lips mime arcane inscriptions 'til she tastes their secret heresies.
Brath winds swallow the tower steeps as lightning slices earthward
And she moves, lithely, her serpentine footsteps rhyming with the thunder.
Whirling in a decadent dance across cobbled stones,
Her writhing gown baits the smoldering hearth
While gem studded cuffs glent upon her undulating arms.
Tattered leaves dive from the lancet window, on plangent storm gusts
That fan fireblaughts about her like dragon's breath.
And she dances, ever spinning, sowing magic unto the pageant of night.

Copyright © 2003 by D. Wakefield