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The Fall of the Ruby City

The Fall of the Ruby City
by Helen Ogden

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The Odalisque's Account

Some spoke of the reeking,
of flame among fervour,
of sought after scalds
too precious to cool.

Some spoke of crimson
broiled blisters, unfurled tongues
aching to gather, in writhing streets,
below glimmering spires
                                      en-kindled bones,

stacked, named.

From the Fishers

It was of its time, this reckoning.
Our life's blood, their oscillatory scales slip
upwards, cracked with sorelling ash,
our nets choked, blood water.
It was done,
           and nothing could stop the spires from collapse,
            from hurling, even the clear life we made brought forth

Live, from the edge

We, the wise women gathered, sought
out our endings, bound ourselves
to each other, braid by braid.
We were reckless with our methods. Some
spoke of blame,
                                      like a knife well sharp.

We dressed our ruby
our farewells.
                    from the edge of the world.

A Daughter, Swathed

                                      Ruby Queens do not flinch,
                                      or make dull their part
                                                              within catastrophe

          You will learn to draw in blame, my dear,
                                to trade fire for flesh,
                        to turn three ways for a city, swathed;

to keep without, within.

This readied woman rises,
and in her footsteps there is now an art
                                                    to failings, to glory.

* * *

Helen Ogden is a 32-year-old Yorkshire born writer of speculative fantasy poetry, prose and children's stories. Her work has appeared in Goblin Fruit, Cabinet Des Fees, and Jabberwocky. She has received honourable mentions from fantasy editor Ellen Datlow.

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre?

I think the fantasy genre, to me, is so much more satisfying as a reader, because it covers all those emotions and issues in reality AND it encompasses a world where anything can exist or happen. As a writer that is also thrilling concept - because it allows me to write about that things that matter to me.

I love the feeling of writing (or reading) something and getting that feeling that there's no going back. To me that's what the fantasy genre is all about.