Aevernia, My Lady Of Reflections

John Gale

Once, I kissed your lips, Aevernia, but they were lips of glass only, cold and endusted. Upon my withered lips, cold and dust. O for the ruby and perfume of former years, the sweetness of soft, supple flesh…

Aevernia, of this place they say strange things: this mansion on the domed, ebony hill, this house girt with its twisting, leafless enshadowed trees and the darkly glimmering malachite of the surrounding foam of evergreens. This is a haven of shadows, and spectres walk through the myriad cold, velvet shades; phantoms that can grip your unlitten bones with their lily-pale hands.

Moons of ghostly pearl sail above this mansion of corridors and passages, moons that light the dusty panes of the many windows that eye this palace of ebony shades and dusky adumbrations, umbra that whisper to me through the misty burdens of the day and the long, pallid fragrances of the night. This haunted mansion whose towers ascend into infinities of ancient twilights and cold oceans of sunfalls.

Whisper to me, you wraiths that caress my wan flesh and then flit back into the velvet shadows. Recall Aevernia to me, you susurrant spectres.

Aevernia, sweet should your memory be to me, love divine. But the vaults wherein my thoughts of you are long interred have been sealed in ages immemorial and the nitre of the tomb now clouds the brightness of your perfection.

I see you now as in a pageant of the macabre: your once fair, blossom-crowned brow has now been set with a coronet of black antimony encrusted with pearls of gleaming jet and gems from a hoard stolen out of an antique grave.

Yes, the blooms of pale, pale nenuphar have blackened and fallen to fine ash, and the Lemurae have crowned you their queen, Aevernia. Your skin has the awful pallor and strangeness of a moon long pent in lightless caverns and just ascended into starless and alien heavens.

And in the depths of midnight in my aimless wanderings about this house, I think to see your eyes like luminous emeralds behind me in the deep, oaken shadows at the end of the long corridors, the endless passages; or in the obsidian blackness of deep, deep stairwells; a glancing light on the curve of a ceramic vase, or upon the mournful surface of a funeral urn of black jade.

You appear to me fleetingly, Aevernia, in the plethora of mirrors that adorn rooms festooned with dust-laden cobwebs; in mirrors like oval pools; in glass shaped as sarcophagi; in chambers long-deserted to silences, and ghosts, and endless, endless sorrows. Gossamer swags depend from dulled silver chandeliers here, whose candles have long been unlighted.

So bitterly cruel, these mirrors, these ancient specula: I see the vision of you as you once were, Aevernia, so beautifully pale, skin so soft like pure rose-white silk, and your hair like a dark, curling wave in the madreperl moonlight. Then as swift as a deadly striking scimitar the vision changes and then there you stand with flesh like frost-hued autumn leaves, with the pale shadows of the fawning Lemurae about you, whose Queen you are. The only thing familiar to me here, and still fearful to me, are your eyes: deeply beryline and still yearning for occult power, still not sated, not glutted on the strange quests you have completed in the long years since you departed and abandoned me to this house which has grown terrible with the centuries.

What realms you have seen, Aevernia: cities with spires of porphyry rising into skies of chrysoprase; worlds of eternal, writhing amethystine fogs, seen through which are the dreadful and cloaked forms of that shrouded land, ghostly white, calling on the ebony, horned moons that pull the strange tides of those encompassing mists.

These are some of the memories you once returned with to fragrance my dreams or engender and enhance my nightmares, Aevernia. Now these have mantled themselves in moth-wing shades and shadows and speak to me, the spectres that haunted this mansion; and they summon the black moons that draw in the tide of your remembrance.

And walking sometimes through the deep tangles that encircle this house, in the dark and secretive evergreen wood, sweet with decay and gleaming moistures, your visage I see mockingly in the dark green of shining leaves, or in the exquisite crystals of drops of rain, or in the shallow copper bowl, brimming with water, that has become a mirror held by the statue of the solemn faun of weathered and lichened stone that looks down into this vessel that he holds, and there, mingled with his piquant features, you are. And I wish to immerse myself there, merge with this fleeting image of you as you were, nenuphar-crowned.

And so I stand at dust-paled glass, at windows litten by ghostly moons of pearl, wrapped in the dark, corrupted remembrance of you, staring out at the dawn fogs that clothe the distant hills with swirling copper, weaving its smoke through the barren trees of the distant woodlands; stand often times through the insipid day until the hidden circle of the sun infuses the surrounding mists with vermilion bloods, and bloods of brooding verd-antique. Or I climb the towers that pierce the unflowing seas of antique sunsets and eventides and call your name, Aevernia, cry forth your name, Aevernia, to the unreflecting infinities of boreal vespertine skies.

So I wait for you, wait for you to return one day, install me as your consort once more, for though you horrify with your autumnal face of moon and frost, with your coronet of sable antimony ashen with the decayings of ancient nenuphar, I wait for you, bound to you as the glimmering jewels of the stars are bound to the skies. Yet nevermore shall you return, yet I wait in sorrow in this house of sorrowful things.

So I wander, and I watch, and I am haunted by the sudden ghosts of you, Aevernia, in the plethora of mirrors that bewater this place, haunted by the memory-phantoms of fabulous quests that grip through my antique, mummied flesh my ancient lily-pale bones; those susurrating spectres that sing of you in breathy whispers. And I await and weep in these sorrowful surroundings and in every tear I know you are reflected in exquisite perfection, Aevernia.

Once, I kissed your lips, Aevernia, but they were lips of glass only, cold and endusted. Upon my withered lips, cold and dust. O for the ruby and perfume of former years, the sweetness of soft, supple flesh…

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