Those I found in the dark

Charles Payseur

I. Ne Who Bathed in Night

When the sun buried itself,
crept down past where eyes could follow
and fell into its hibernation from which none could raise it
	You took my hand,
	no more afraid of the darkness than of dying,
	and taught me how to see by starlight.

While others danced entreaties
for the sun's return,
burned prayers, forests, sons and daughters
for just a memory of day
	You led me to a midnight pool,
	had your rough way with me,
	slid your tongue on mine
	so I could speak with owls.

When you vanished
and other voices told me to shake off the dark,
join them by the fire
	I laughed with the howl of a coyote
	spat a river of ink at their feet
	and set sail on it.

II. She Who Buried the Past

I met you on the endless ocean the darkness made,
the both of us running to—and from—everything,
found in your arms a kindred ink.
	You had never seen the shore, the sun:
	to you each day destroyed the last,
	erased it like it never was
You like my tattoos? The martin, the whale,
the banshee, the crab

You came off on me each time we met,
a storm of touch and moans like thunder—
we finished smudged, blurred, satisfied.
	One morning I slipped away before you woke,
	took your mark with me
	before you could wipe me clean
You like my tattoos? Ink was never meant
to be forever

III. He Who Dreamed of Fire

I did not expect to love you
	for who would want to?
but when you found me on the sands, stargazing
	it looked like you were waiting for the sky to fall
and you smiled and asked
if you could sit beside me
	I was cold, and you were glowing
I couldn't help but fall.

You told me you dreamed
	the same thing every night
of only darkness, but that you believed
	you told me we're all waiting for something
it was just that the lights had gone out
inside you and you couldn't see
	I was cold, and you were glowing
for want of a flame.

We did not make love
	for who would want to?
or even kiss, but sometimes our hands
	you told me we're all waiting for something
would touch and I would feel
a part of you react to a part of me
	I was cold, and you were glowing

IV. Those Who Returned

You found us on the shore
	shore of the land
	shore of the sea
and you brought pieces of me like gifts—
	I let you keep them
	and showed you what pieces I had taken
	to fill the gaps.

You asked to stay.
We said yes
	for who would not?
And on the shore
	we danced like winds,
	hands on bodies, lips brushing—
	we came like ghosts dissolving,
glowed so bright
	we would have missed
		the sun rising.

Charles Payseur is an avid reader, writer, and reviewer of all things speculative. His fiction and poetry have appeared at Strange Horizons, Lightspeed Magazine, The Book Smugglers, and many more. You can find him gushing about short fiction (and occasionally his cats) on Twitter as @ClowderofTwo.