The Benchmark and the Birthstone

As we say in the sticks but not in the stone, these old dinosaur bones from the sad period were discovered by a clutch of small children gathering blackberries by the side of the road. Those were the days, the elders said.

Nights like these, the moon has a certain decrepit charm. One could almost believe no story, and no storyteller could ever live in poverty, for the treasures moving about in the breeze. So say the trees, quivering with the precision of autumn.

Across the way the grandmother of winter is bitter, bitter as an underwatered lawn, and across the universe the ghost of William Blake lifts his veil and falls at the clay feet of Venus.

On Shaggy Cat Lane, says the one remaining merchant, when the child ghost was breathed into the world, Madam Essa spoke of the benchmark and the birthstone. She lifted his body to her breast and said, a child born of the transparent soul finds all diseases of the flesh a mere inconvenience. The broken backed man and the boil-ridden woman cast away their names. By morning, they were married under the great dappled canopy, and the following week, they were both quite cured of their maladies, for they were both quite beautifully dead.

It was said the newborn was the brother of the poplar and the emperor, and thus was bathed in salt and wrapped in the finest fabrics of the time. The rancher brought an appaloosa and the miner brought a branch. The priestess brought a tallow lamp, the poet brought a basket of blackberries and a tuning fork was sounded where the soldiers and the drunkards took their meat.

When the child developed in his youth a mysterious illness, he still went off to war, and returned home a shaman. His arms had grown longer than the poplar grows high, and with them he was able to build bridges and shadows from the desert to the sea. On his death, it was revealed the bones in his arms were a phosphorescent blue.

The youth jump up and down and insist there is no evidence of this.