THE 'FRIEND IN NEED' TRILOGIES
By Ana Ortiz
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone, let alone Xena and Gabrielle.
Note: While the Gabrielle poems celebrate the moments of strength found within the tragedy of FIN2, the Warrior trilogy serves as my fan reaction (rather negative) to the plot and ethical premise of FIN2. It explicitly takes up the selfish and narrow moral code that I think drives the Xena character in FIN. Xena in FIN, I believe, is not representative of Xena in the rest of the series.
My thanks to members of the Xena Warrior Lesbian discussion board for concept development and encouragement, especially Hawke, Ryland, Scott, Loki, and Antigone.
Author contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHEATING FEAR: THE XENA POEMS
First Movement: UPON BURYING ARMS
After the amputation I scramble upon all fours.
For so long impulses flowed freely
from knuckle, through fingertips, to sword.
I am incomplete.
My will once sailed upon this razor disc.
I touched fast and far in metal skin,
but that sense has gone blind.
Rest now, old limbs
that cannot make the journey's end.
I stand at the threshold of forever young:
I will not waste away.
I will not dodder, or break apart slowly,
or forget Her name or mine.
One beam of morning pierces through the copse,
bringing with it a burst of clarity un-obscured by the drumbeats,
and strikes a match of shame I have no time to extinguish:
I would bury every last cell called Myself
before I would consent to know Her in her grave.
Second Movement: BEGGING FOR WATER
Deliver us again from need, my fearless one.
You walked across the minefields of our hearts
and cleared a path for me to tread.
When on our battlefield we first crossed arms
You led my hand to safety in soft, soaked curls,
knowing the rest of me would follow.
You commanded the charge -
You, who must release your passion first for mine to break;
You, who read my wishes bound in shame and loosen the ties.
Now only one Source can sate my holy thirst:
not mountain streams, where spirits come to drink
like ghostly deer at day's end,
But Gabrielle, who -
with her gentle weight and hungry lips -
makes desire rain.
Third Movement: SUNSET
All explanations have been offered;
the mathematics of the soul carefully laid out
in lectures you refuse to absorb,
a sullen, resigned pupil at my side.
Blood orange clouds grace the high landscape
I will soon inhabit.
I find myself unable to meet your eyes,
too stiff to turn into the face that has forgiven a litany of carelessness,
a rosary of rifts and silences,
an abundance of days better spent on safer roads and softer beds.
Soon I'll turn a pretty trick -
the best of all my feints and leaps,
and skipping of blades, and balancing of the impossible -
the thrill increased in the absence of a net.
I set my heels to run across the sky.
Muscles explode in motion,
and I am utterly astonished
when I fly into your heart instead.
FINDING STRENGTH: THE GABRIELLE POEMS
First Movement: TATTOO EYES
As my body settles into the familiar position
Your eyes pull me back, away to younger afternoons,
Where memories can color my present sensations.
Needle bites dance with your sharp-edged kisses,
spurring me on as you ride upon my back,
your hands at my jaw, taming my direction
as you take me galloping at a rhythm I no longer control.
A warning squeeze on my arm draws me out.
You fear I will mar the artist's work.
But I say you are the artist:
You - who etch your presence on every nerve of my body
As I come hard,
not caring who sees or hears or laughs.
Once again, you paint a masterpiece.
Second Movement: THE DOE RESPONDS TO THE STAG HUNT
Prizes can be won - or lost.
So love, I knew
the majesty that drew me
could beckon others less gentle.
Your stately shoulders and tossing head,
Your fire and forever yearning
Insured that our presence would never pass unmarked,
no matter how thick the forest.
The hunt is never fair.
It's not a game where prey can turn the tide.
I look upon you now after the sport in silent rage,
and spark amusement in the pack of dogs
that brought you down:
The smaller mate,
The skittish one,
The piece of insignificance at your impressive side,
not worth the wood of an arrow
Would interrupt the lazy stoking of pride,
Would wrest the trophy from the mantelpiece.
But if they quieted, your killers,
And looked into my rounded eyes,
They would find the desperate weight of my future without you,
And the deadly sorrow of all the left behind.
And they would fear.
Third Movement: BURIAL AT SEA
As the embers cool
a new body emerges - disparate, light.
A reverse alchemy wins,
where the essence is diluted.
Where gold slips into lead;
scales of gray take golden skin and midnight hair
powdered grains take sweat-slick neck and warm-ed breast
passive siftings take the quick laugh and steady step.
Around me dark waters dwarf human efforts at magic,
and promise correction in cycles more timeless than my days.
So I cast seeds of death into the wind,
watch sparkles of Her crest in the waves,
and wait for life to ride the current back.
And return to me, Lightning blue eyes,
in flashes of summer storms.
Kiss my face once more, Spice-honey lips,
in spring morning rains.
Hold me breathless, Arms that sheltered and played,
in soft drifts of snow -
Never to leave me again.
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