Characters: Dunstan Kordieh, Karvos
“What is that?”
Karvos turned and smiled. “It’s a book of your poetry — from Earth, that is.”
“Earth poetry? I’m surprised you’d …” he stopped, flushing.
The Brakiri only smiled a little wider. “No, it’s a fair question. I don’t know how much you know of my people –”
“Not enough, by any means.”
“Well then. Our first contact with your people was through your radio and television broadcasts — so we knew a great deal about your culture before we ever met you in the flesh.” He chuckled slightly. “Well, your culture of two hundred years ago, anyway. Most of our people were content with the images they saw, and heard. But a few of us were curious about your written words … we could learn a little, but only hints, tantalizing.
“Part of the reason I decided to come to the Anla’shok was to learn more about your people. And I’ve found out a lot about your poetry. Entil’zha Sinclair was very fond of poetry, so I hear.”
“My … my brother read a lot of poetry,” Kordieh said slowly. “I tried to, but it never seemed to make much sense. Maybe I …”
“Would you like to look at this book? It’s a pretty long trip to Yedor, and I have another one I can read.”
Kordieh took the book and riffled idly through the pages, not really sure what he was looking for. Then it fell open solidly to several pages headed “Emily Dickinson.”
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, And Mourners to and fro Kept treading -- treading -- till it seemed That Sense was breaking through -- And when they all were seated, A Service, like a Drum -- Kept beating -- beating -- till I thought My Mind was going numb --
“Kordieh? Are you all right?”
He looked over at Karvos in the seat next to him, realizing that he had let his head fall back against the cushion and squeezed his eyes shut. To his companion, it must have looked like he was having a seizure.
“Yes, I’m all right,” he said quickly. “I just … it reminds me of my dreams. I wasn’t prepared for that…” He turned the book toward the Brakiri, who read the poem on the page.
Then he looked up at Kordieh again and said, “I have a confession to make … all they told me was that you were paying for some crime committed in madness. I just didn’t want to embarrass you in front of Sech Nelier.”
Kordieh’s mouth bent up into a wry smile. “Kind of you.” He paused for a moment, then said, “Would you like to hear the whole thing?”
“Only if it won’t trouble you too much.”
“Well … maybe it’ll help you understand why I’m reacting this way. It all started with my brother Lucius and I. We were twins, you see …”
© 1999 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.