Carl Sandburg wrote those words. Sandburg as a poet wasn’t studied overmuch when I was at uni doing my literature Master’s, but I had read some of his things in an independent study. He was on the short list of poets I wanted to cover in my PhD work, partly because, when I looked in to his life, most American sources really glossed over the secondary work he did as a member of the Social Democratic Party and a frequent contributor to socialist newspapers. I smile when I think about that. Because Sandburg was also celebrated as “the voice of America”. It would be easy to dismiss him, if you only ever saw his most famous poem, which you probably know even if you don’t know it was written by Carl Sandburg.
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits lookingCarl Sandburg
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
You might think, oh, there’s another American imagist poet. And you might also think, well, here is a poet who was very popular within his own lifetime, and dismiss him for that. Literature is just as fickle as the tabloid press sometimes. Look deeper. It’s almost always more interesting in medias res. Sandburg certainly was, and is.
In Faerie, there is often fog. But what you may find inside it varies from Sandburg’s silent-but-watchful cat to things you’d wish you didn’t live to remember.
When I replaced our old portal with this newer one from Harshlands, Clutie said the portal light reminded her of a swirling fog. We tested it a few times and, sure enough, when you travel through to our new portal, you seem to be surrounded by fog. Or mist. Tangentally, “mist” is a funny word. It’s considered less prosaic than “fog” and often used when a writer wants to add a little bit of magic or mystery into a scene. It’s also, technically, more associated with low-forming clouds on mountains, whereas “fog” gets used when we are talking about what rolls in from the sea or clears in the morning. Scientifically, we differentiate the two things by how far you can see through them. “Fog” reduces visibility to less than one kilometre. “Mist” allows visibility for 1-2 kilometres. Which means, really, that what you find in Faerie is more “fog” than “mist”, because when it comes, it seems to swallow the Realm whole. And of course, in German, “Mist” means “animal excrement”. So I suppose if I could wish something for our tourists here in Fae Awenia, I’d wish for them to meet not with Fae mist, but with Fae fog.
Lest you think I’ve just been rambling around the Realm, idly going on about Carl Sandburg and and the admittedly fascinating distinctions between “fog”, “mist”, and “Mist”, I have been corresponding regularly with Friðrós, and Bran has already sent several little items he knew I’d love, so that I can be properly attired in this year’s Fairelands Finest when I arrive at the Faire after our Awenia Beltane fires.
Bran found this dress, for example. It comes from the wickedly fabulous Devious Mind, and the rainbow colours are so lovely to welcome in the summer. We’re preparing the altar for the inevitable and invisible change from Spring Guardian to Summer Guardian; it’ll happen sometime tonight, just when no-one is paying attention. These wings came from the faire too, made by Idrial Ghost of FAS, as did the skin painting. I won’t even tell you how many favours we had to call in to borrow Skye Nefekalum for 90 minutes to oversee this lovely skin painting. I mean, it helps when you’re moving from one pocket dimension to another, I guess, and it’s not like Awenia’s a big enough Realm to have much traffic, at least when it’s Faire season: I mean, who would visit us for Beltane when they could be at the Faire?
I may be rambling. This is the first year in many I’ve not been there for the opening of the Faire gates, and I admit it feels like a loss. However, with Bran and Friðrós keeping me in touch with what’s happening, I feel almost connected, and it did mean I was able to do the altar summoning this year.
Take a last look at Spring in our Sacred Grove, for soon it will be Summer. The very capable sculptor Kadaj Yoshikawa sent over an advance copy of his Pillars of the Faire statue, and beautiful it is indeed. I hear tell there’s a new elf statue from him as well, and I’m sure it’ll find its way into one of our spaces before the Faire is done. Yellow is already giving way to green here, and as we dance, so the seasons change. Never doubt that it is we who Turn the Wheel.
As the light grows, we add berries, cups full and bowls full and all manner of sweet summer tastes to our summer central altar, and the whole job is overseen by one of the many demifae who makes it her business to oversee all the altars in the Sacred Grove. There are three; did you know? This one is our grove altar. It’s where we gather and give reverence. Behind me is our feast altar, and really you might say, but that’s just a big table with a feast laid out upon it—and what else is a beautifully laid table, I wonder, than an altar? Further back, and not so visible from here is the divination altar, in a quiet, sheltered place underneath that big oak tree. And I’m blessed to have a Realm so full of life, love, and fellowship as we move into the glorious peak time of the sun and my summer self waxes into her golden power. It will feel good to enter the Faire on Saturday as a fully Summer Queen.
Now, remember I was telling you about Carl Sandburg up there? The whole poem that quote is taken from is called Tentative (First Model) Definitions of Poetry, and it has only ten lines. I think it’s somehow necessary that every poet write at least one poem about poetry itself, even though there are so many reasons not to. It’s why everybody learns to play Horse With No Name on the guitar, too. Some kind of rite of passage.
Speaking of rites, and of passages, it seems The Author wants a word with you, so please excuse how the language will now change from that of Your Beloved Fae Queen to a very ordinary middle-aged lady who lives in yet another London I did not come from.
From The Author:
At Fantasy Faire, we make a lot of noise, have a lot of fun, and raise a lot of money for the American Cancer Society. In the virtual world of Second Life, we hold the largest online charity event in the world, and this year it includes 21 regions and spans two weeks and change*. From my human perspective, I’ve been involved with the annual Fantasy Faire as more than a tourist for seven years. This is my seventh year.
After seven years, Fantasy Faire is still magical to me. If you look back in the “category” section of this blog, you’ll find posts from 2015 to the present day, all telling stories or singing poems about these worlds created by the stunning imaginations and skills of our Fantasy Faire World Builders. Every year, the vastness of the Regions delights and captivates me, and every year, there’s at least one thing that blows me away and makes me cry.
This year, that thing happened when I walked through the Balderdash store with my friend. Because Saiyge Lotus designs Fairelands Junction each year, which isn’t a shopping region, you will find her store, usually looking humble on the outside, in one of the many shopping regions.
Yeah, I’m going to stop now and tell you a story. It’s not a long story, but it is connected to the story of Why I Relay, which you can read in other blog posts from years past. Most of you know that my beloved husband Joe passed away from cancer in January of 2016. Now, that was hard, and heart wrenching, and I wasn’t ready for a world without him in it. Joe was an atheist, a staunch atheist who would occasionally refer to the Christian God as “the invisible man in the sky”, or “your imaginary friend”. He was ruthlessly scientific and left-brained, an engineer by trade, and yet he loved romantic comedies and sentimental songs. Go figure. He did not believe in an afterlife. Rather, he believed that his atoms and consciousness, in whatever form they continued, would go out into the cosmos and spend their eternities filtering down to earth. To paraphrase (and possibly blaspheme), “We are stardust, and to stardust shall we return”. When the family left the hospital room where he’d died during the night, I brushed my hand across his forehead and whispered to him that I would see him again in the stars.
And that’s why I cried when I saw this. Thank you, Saiyge.
The smallest things in the universe (that we have observed so far, anyway) are quarks and electrons, the building blocks of the atom. And in terms of size, the electron is smaller. And if Joe’s right, he’s out there with those things, whirring around in the cosmos and doing what stardust does.
Although my first life job means that I can’t attend the Milk Wood Writing Dash very often, I do try to go during Faire, and that beautiful little memorial kept spinning through my head. The prompt was “smallest”, which made it obvious what I was going to write about.
In case you don’t know, the Milk Wood Daily Dash is a 15-minute timed writing prompt exercise, followed by sharing (if you’re comfortable). Very often, I try to write a complete sonnet in those fifteen minutes. Most of the time, I succeed, believe it or not. So here’s what came out of that Dash, and I’ve only changed one word in editing.
If I told you that up among the stars
Those pieces of you flew and made their homes
Among electrons building stars and more
I’d never search the sky. Because the stars
Are busy being built, and you, my light
And light creator, are too focused now
To bother with a thing you know for sure.
But all is well, I’m happy when you send
A meteorite to let me know you can,
And, chaos as I am against your method,
You know I’ll wish on it, and then one day,
In thirty or forty light years or so,
We’ll hear that wish together, me and you,
Though we already know wishes come true.
So thank you again, Saiyge, you beautiful being, for putting into a little mesh object the sum total of mine and Joe’s dance across the cosmos. If stars sing, they’d write a song about this one thought.
*Corrects an earlier error: the faire this year spans two weeks and four days, not three weeks as I originally said: this Fae Queen is not very good at maths, and that was a computational error on my part!
Notes & Credits:
These photos were all taken in The Author’s home Realm of Awenia, where Fae Queen Gwyneth is about to become the Summer Queen once again, where The Amazing Catwoman sometimes works as second in command in the Realm Guard, where Nathaniel and Gwyneth are about to redecorate a cottage after leaving their old castle behind, where we sometimes have visits from beautiful people, and where Romany Davi will shortly be proposing a new idea about bringing more tourists to Awenia. Awenia takes its name from the druidic symbol of the Awen, which is the symbol and the sigil for divine inspiration.
Items Featured from Fantasy Faire:
Gwyneth’s Dress, Pearl Strings, and Necklace: Devious Mind, Asteria, Rainbow for Fantasy Faire 2021 (Get it here!)
Gwyneth’s Wings: FAS, Faery Wings (Get them here!)
Gwyneth’s Skin Painting: Nefekalum, Willow, Violet Edition (Get it here!)
Memorial Sign: Balderdash, We Will Meet Again (Get it here!)
New Statue (though it’s not as visible as it should be): Harshlands, The Pillars Of The Faire (Get it here!)
Items Featured from Chronicles & Legends:
New Awenia Portal: Harshlands, Unseelie Portal (Chronicles & Legends is open for two more days, until 2 May!)
The Rest of Gwyneth’s Look:
Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha, in T2 (Available at the Lumae Main Store!)
Hair: Monso, Yasiren Hair
Headpiece & Veil: Rozoregalia, Viscum Tiara and Viscum Veil
Everything else is just what’s usually visible in Awenia Faerie—there’s far too much to list here, but if you have questions about specific items, IM Gwen Enchanted (that’s me) in world, and I’ll happily let you where everything else comes from.