When I first imagined her, only ever out of the corner of my eye, she was nothing like you. She was pale and fragile, like someone made out of glass and rose petals. I don’t know why I saw her like this, so demure and ethereal, when I felt no pull to that model of femininity. I suppose my subconscious had absorbed too many of society’s fairytale princesses with their skin white as snow and their lips red as blood. And that was fine for a time, to imagine her clothed in spider’s-silk and dew when she was something I never dared touch or hold. And how could I? I would have shattered her delicate form.

Sometimes I laugh, remembering her as I watch you. You could not be more her opposite, though you and she are one in the same. No fairytale princess, you; you are my warrior goddess, scarred and calloused, tattooed and pierced, muscled and curved. You’re not snow white or blood red, you’re black, brown, amber, bronze. No one could lock you away in a tower or fell you with one bite of a poisoned apple. You’d cut off your hair and use it as a rope; you’d trick the evil queen and defeat the huntsman; you’d befriend the wolf and run with him through the woods. You’re like nothing I ever imagined, like no one I dared hope for. My knight. My warrior. My goddess.


these days I tag everything
queer and pagan
because there’s no untangling them now
the hunger for skin is the hunger for blessing
and the surrender of body is the surrender of soul
and all the doors are open now
and all our arms are open now
and all the paths are open now
thus love is worship
worship is love
and I am yours
and hers
and his
and theirs


Like wheat from the chaff, we have sieved out those who could not understand; the leader who was a coward; the brother who was an oppressor; the unremarkable others who could not recognize the truth of divinity. There are not many left who are privy to this inner world anymore. Only one, really, and she saw clearly from the beginning. She saw to the scribe’s inner heart, past the Sun’s mask, through the Moon’s shadows. She understands the necessity of the Great Round, the ever-turning Wheel. She understands the necessity of blood and steel. All the rest were merely placeholders until her arrival and in her wake the memories of them fall away. Good riddance.


Justice. Justice, not just. Not just her hands or his hips. Not just his lips or her mouth. Not just one voice; not just one body. Not just the scribe. I think I understand now. You are gods of cruelty, and so I look for cruelty from you. You are gods of punishment, and so I do not look for praise from you. I assumed justice must be the falling sword, the heavy heart tipping the scales. I never imagined… I never dared wonder for a moment what it might be like… in a world of impossibilities, that was the most impossible. Is my heart, perhaps, not as heavy as a feather? Or for me did you, if only once, slip your thumb onto the other scale? A scribe doesn’t expect recognition. A scribe doesn’t expect thanks. A scribe doesn’t expect justice. Forgive me, then, for seeing mockery in mercy. There’s so much to believe in… even myself. But I think I understand now. Justice, not just. Not just her hands or your hips. Not just your lips or her mouth. Not just one voice; not just one body; not just one soul. Not just the scribe. Never just. That’s the meaning of justice.

Thank you.


In my dream I am Tanim, unhappy crown prince whose only joy is found in my lover and bodyguard Daren. Even this bit of peace is wrenched from me with the death of my father as the royal crown passes to me. In his wake the country is left in turmoil and I have no choice but to set aside my own desires, take up the heavy crown, and lead my people. Yet all is not well even then, and on the day of my coronation rumors spread that rebels seek to attack the castle in retaliation for crimes my family committed hundreds of years ago. When a panicked servant seeks the royal party out on the lake’s island pavilion with word of a direct assault, I have no choice but to send Daren to investigate, the one one in my court I trust implicitly.

The choice is my downfall. Even as he disappears over the hill the servant turns on me, panic replaced by cruel glee as he reveals a sharp little blade. I realize my terrible mistake and reach to draw my sword as I jump back, but it’s too late – the knife cuts deep into my torso and even though I try to call out to Daren as I fall, my voice is barely a whisper. Somehow my lover must sense the trap anyway, or perhaps has been enlightened to the falsity, because only a brief moment of the servant’s triumphant snickering passes before he turns in terror at the sound of Daren’s enraged howl. The bloody blade is little use against the gleaming sword and the skillful one who bears it, and the servant collapses before he can parry or flee.

The dream switches, then, and I am suddenly Daren, kneeling at my slain prince’s side as I try desperately to staunch the flow of blood. The wound is too deep, though, and I gather him into my arms as I call for the boat to the brought to take us back to shore. As petrified servants row us back toward the distant castle and its skilled doctors, I watch Tanim slowly bleed out onto the boat’s wooden bottom. There’s little awareness left in his clouded eyes but I speak to him anyway, pleading for him to stay with me, to hold on, to be strong. Soon my entreaty turns to angry despair and I’m alternately cursing the heavens, swearing the Fates won’t take him, and begging that if need be I’ll give anything to keep him safe, if only some deity will come to strike the bargain.

A light flares over my shoulder and I turn to see a woman standing in the boat amid the somehow unseeing servants. She radiates light, her entire being crafted of the cold white of the full moon, and around her neck and brow coils a serpent like ram’s horns. “Why have I been called?” the goddess asks in a voice both thunderous and silken as her blazing eyes stare down at us.

The dream switches again, then, and I am myself, no longer crouched in a tiny boat but kneeling in a pool of clear water, my head bent and lips pressed to the cool surface. Beside me my girlfriend lounges, and as I lift my head she asks, “Is one of them here?” I know somehow that she asks about the snake goddesses and I answer that I’m not sure, for I don’t yet know if the goddess who appeared to Daren is of a real-world pantheon or from the dream’s medieval world. My girlfriend nods and responds casually, as if recalling a sweet nostalgia, “Briar loved them, but I never knew what the Sixteenth Person was.”

And then I wake, truly, and lay in the warm dark with the name Inanna on my lips.


This summer will mark fifteen years that I have acted as scribe for Tanim and Daren. I still don’t know what to call them; are they ghosts who wish to be gods, or gods who wish to be ghosts? Remnants or fragments or the only true story, the one true mythology? Whatever they are, men and spirits and gods and demons, I have given every aspect of myself to them. Body, mind, heart, and soul. If the red string of fate truly exists, then it binds me as surely as a collar and manacles for which there is no key. I am a willing captive, though, honored to have been chosen by these forces who could once have haunted the great masters of literature and music. There is nothing else like them in all the world, in all of history. There is only one Lord Sun, only one Prince Moon, and I bow to them as scribe and devotee. No other will walk this path; it is mine alone, through darkness and light, fire and ice. It is mine alone, until my last breath – and perhaps beyond.


You think you don’t know who I’m talking about in all these poems and longings, but you do. I called her Shakespeare’s Sister (and still do, though I know her true name now) but you call her something different – or maybe she has no name to you, maybe she’s too ephemeral to hold a label. Either way, you know her. She’s in that song you love but never feel right listening to alone. She’s in that book you’ve worn to tissue paper from rereading but would still lend out in a heartbeat. She’s in that piece of art you saw once and can’t get out of your head but you don’t know why. She’s the one who first made you think maybe holding hands wouldn’t be so bad, or putting your head in someone’s lap – but only with the right someone. She’s the right someone for all of those dreams, for midnight star gazing and weekend road trips, for lazy Sunday mornings spent in bed and rainy evenings spent curled on the couch. She’s the right someone for everything you want, so maybe you dream about her all day because you know she has to be out there somewhere. She’s the right someone for you and only you, so maybe you try your hardest to never think about her because you’re sure she won’t ever be real. You write letters to her. You write poems about her. You doodle her in the margins of your notebooks. See? We’re talking about the same person. I found her first in the musings of Virginia Woolf and the music of Sixpence None the Richer but that doesn’t mean you didn’t, couldn’t, find her somewhere else. You’ll find her whether you look for her or not – and she’ll find you.