Posts Tagged ‘Mary Soon Lee’

Shade

His years of duty ended,
still the captain stood watch
over his king,
night after night.

Hung in honor on the wall,
the iron-forged blade
the captain once wielded
in the king’s defense.

In the captain’s hands
that blade’s twinned shadow,
both sword and man reduced
to air and captured moonlight.
— Mary Soon Lee

 

 

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry, and has had over three hundred poems published in markets ranging from the American Scholar to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A dozen of her poems may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com

Editor’s Notes: Image is a collage of the Sword of Goujian, the real king’s sword, a dragon, and the B&W Nagoya Castle by Moonlight by Philip Hunt.

See also the YouTube on the sword: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srbL3Vppirw

First Lesson

                        Scene: Prince Keng sitting on a rock.
                        The dragon enters, flying down.
 
DRAGON Good morning, Princeling. Have you come to
           admire my magnificence?
 
KENG    My father sent me. He said you would teach me
           to be king.
 
DRAGON Your father? Your father is your greatest
           threat aside from me.
 
                        The dragon menaces the boy, who holds his place.
 
DRAGON Good. You’re brave. You’ll make a fine king.
           Now go away.
 
KENG    That’s all? Don’t you have advice for me?
           I thought….
 
DRAGON An excellent habit for a king, thinking.
           You should try it more often.
 
KENG    [Kneeling] Please. Teach me what a king
           should know.
 
DRAGON A king should know that he cannot know
           all he should know. Men’s lives are
           too short.
 
KENG    Then teach me what I most need to know.
 
DRAGON I tried to do so. Perhaps you weren’t
           paying attention.
 
KENG    You said men’s lives are short. That my
           father is my greatest threat–why? Why is
           he a threat?
 
DRAGON Because men will measure you against him,
           and find you lacking. No matter how hard
           you try, his reputation will outmatch you
           as the tiger outmatches the rabbit.
 
KENG    That would be true of anybody you chose as
           king. No one can equal him.
 
DRAGON No one? As for you, if you ever take the
           throne, I advise you to begin badly.
           Quickly quash people’s hopes. Then any
           mistakes you make will be no more than they
           expect, and any successes will appear the
           greater.
 
KENG   No.
 
DRAGON No?
 
KENG    If I am king, I will do the best I can.
           From the beginning.
 
DRAGON Good.
 
KENG    But you just said I should begin badly–
 
Mary Soon Lee_prince and the dragon
DRAGON Indeed. And I may argue the merits of that
           at a later date. What pleased me is that
           you didn’t blindly agree. However wise his
           advisors, a king should weigh their words
           for himself. And so ends your first lesson.
           You may come back tomorrow.
 
                        Keng bows, turns to leave, turns back.
 
KENG    What would you have done if I’d left when
           you first told me to go?
 
DRAGON Eaten you.
 
 
–Mary Soon Lee

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She is working on an epic fantasy in verse, the first book of which has been nominated for the Elgin Award (“Crowned,” Dark Renaissance Books, 2015). The opening poem, “Interregnum,” won the 2014 Rhysling Award for best long poem.
 
Editor’s Image Note: Picture courtesy tumblr.com (artist unknown)