by Theodora Goss
You ask where you will find her. Beside the singing fountains,
where orange trees are blossoming and perfuming the air;
where night is like an orchard, with orange blossoms shining,
and the spirit of the fountains unbinds its wild blue hair.
Ask courage of the clockwork bird and follow where it tells you,
the talking bird that maps the long brown road to heart’s desire.
Pass by the groaning forests, and boars that speak in parables,
and stop your ears as you approach the taunting realms of fire.
When you have reached the final citadel, you’ll find the trousers
that give a man a league at step, the zither that is wise
enough to know how you can open all the cut-glass doorways.
Release the cat that smiles and blinks its dreaming amber eyes.
Then, after chasm and abyss, and after crystal mountains
that dazzle and confuse the mind like vertical green seas,
you’ll come at last beneath the trees of fragrant orange-orchards
where the princess in the singing fountains bathes her soft white knees.
(The image is an illustration for Maiden Song by Emma Florence Harrison.)