(for Jared)

The city: metal skins cloaking thin, high stairs
that step slyly to the side and flower into balconies
or turn and twist into spires, piercing the sky to
sip a heady blend of cloud and starlight.

The river: lapping stair-roots trailing from towers’ crumbling skirts, chasing the long asphalt burn of main street
and pooling beside the square to catch reflections
of statues, cats, and students in its phantom glass.

The school: clothed in sleeping stones
whispering words in languages lost and living,
tucking secrets into thick volumes to be plucked
anew each morning by hands gloved in dust.

The garden: roses riot into briars, burst and bud
in orbs fuller than the moon, running with rabbits underfoot—
a blooming music hums one poignant, silent note,
and, on the arm of the wind, petals dance the tune.

The labyrinth: at the heart of the garden,
a logical dream pieced into being with
walls of leaves that promise movement
even when they stretch and sigh fathoms into dirt.

The magician: laughter in the dark, hands that shape and spell with gentleness, rich in riddles learned from pages and
the leagues that have passed beneath his boots—winding through city and river, school and garden, labyrinth.

The priestess: mistress of owls, fingers silver-warded,
clad in cobwebs and crinoline, songs on her lips
and in her hair, wending her way through roots and roses
to meet the magician where the leaf-walls part.

The lovers: laughter catching in cobwebs,
skin slick under crinoline, hands clasping,
spells singing as they walk in step,
roots below, stars above, whispering in the dark.

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Sara Cleto
Sara Cleto is a Ph.D. candidate in English and folklore at the Ohio State University. She also teaches courses on fairy tales, legends, and more at the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic (carterhaughschool.com). Her poetry and prose can be found in Liminality, Mythic Delirium, Uncanny Magazine, Goblin Fruit, Faerie Magazine, and many more. You can find her at saracleto.com.