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Featured Poem • December 2017

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Lotus Moon

 

Mary Soon Lee

 
 

     Over hill, over river,      across the wide steppe      far came the wild horses,      unbroken, untamed,      to meet the scarred king. On the sixth night of their return to the horse country, Atun, king’s guard, followed King Xau onto the hill where the wild horses waited. A hundred horses or more, among them a thin gray mare who came right up to Atun, just as she had done during his last night duty. And Atun wondered then if the gray mare had chosen him, but said nothing, his guess lying too close to his heart’s wish for him to trust it. Next night, the mare sought Atun and he spoke to her softly, and he marked, too, how a black horse went over to Shuen and nickered. So Atun told the king his thoughts. On the eighth night, the night when the Lotus Moon rode round and full in the summer sky, all nine guards accompanied King Xau to the wild horses. And the gray mare went to Atun and breathed warm in his ear, and the black horse went to Shuen, and a horse to each other guard, and a colt with a white blaze to the king. And King Xau looked at his guards and his guards looked at him, and each man set his hands on the horse that had come to him and jumped up onto its back.      Rode then the scarred king      and the nine guards      who shielded him,      closer than brothers,      raced through the grass—      Raced reckless and giddy,      grinning like boys,      the wind on their bare arms,      the horses beneath them      stretched into a gallop.

 

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Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She recently had 119 haiku published in Science, one for each element in the periodic table. Her poetry has also appeared in American Scholar, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and the Wall Street Journal. She has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award for her speculative poetry, and has an antiquated website at http://www.marysoonlee.com.

She writes that “Lotus Moon” is “part of an epic fantasy about King Xau, told in over three hundred poems. King Xau’s guards are an important part of the story, and this episode is one of the few times that they and the king are reckless rather than dutiful. I wanted them to have a moment of wildness and joy together. A dozen more poems from the epic may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com.”

 

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