Waiting…. (Republished with revisions)

Publisher’s note:  As you may know, I originally published this poem, written by me, in September 2011.  Recently, though, I’ve wanted to polish it up a little and take new, less muddy photos to compliment it.  This is my new effort, and I offer it to you, along with a brand-new framing story, for your consideration.  More speech on the details and other aspects afterward….

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Place:  The Court of Fountains, Royal Palace, Crown City, Kurabec
Time:  Long ago, and a thousand years from now.

A ball has been thrown this night by the Crown Prince, a natal celebration for his wife the Princessa, and it is in full swing inside the main palace.  Hundreds of people, the powerful, the influential, their spouses and older children, are within, dancing to the musicians’ songs, eating and drinking, discussing the pleasantries and arranging the marriages that make up conversation during the Season at Court.  Alliances and business of other, more traditional kinds are attended to as well; the Royal Family has never stood on the formality of nobility, unlike other families with long pedigrees, and merchants and tradespeople attend here in their best — some of them finer than what the nobles wear….

There are always people who attend not with their spouses, but with an escort or alone.  One such tonight is named Somadi abir Lanan, the wife of Lanan Nande, a powerful and wealthy caravan merchant with contacts across four countries beyond Kurabec.  She is a woman of early middle years, filled with grace and beauty.  She is gowned for the evening in a fabulous dress from a few Seasons back, half white satin with an elaborate tiered skirt, the other half a netting of lace that suggests, but no more.  Her own hair is concealed beneath an intricate, powdered court wig that arches over her head and is link-bound upright by enchanted bands.  Her rich jewels match the expensive gown, glowing with the sheen of costly white and black pearls from far-distant Tilnik, along with stones that match the cosmetics upon her eyes and lips.

For her, this party has been not a place of introductions or of business, but rather of distraction.  Somadi and Lanan love each other with a passion that has not faded over the 22 years of their marriage; and as he has grown richer from profitable transport and trading of luxury goods, he has cut back on the amount he travels with the caravans to almost nothing, so as to be with his family.  But the trip that took him out of Crown City was needed, he told her, and so he is gone again, for at least a month.  With the seeming casualness of men toward danger, he smiles and insists that all will be well; the train is well guarded, has never been attacked before, and he’ll bring home a new bauble to adorn her graceful throat when he returns.  Somadi knows that at least part of this was a braveshow, put on to reassure her that all will be well with him.  But she also saw the longing in Lanan’s eyes as he reached to embrace her, felt the passion in his kiss that did not want to release her, sensed the reluctance in his arms as he finally let her go to mount his horse.  And now he is gone.

They had both been invited two weeks before to this ball, and had accepted, being friends with the Crown Prince and his wife and children.  Then the message arrived five days ago, insisting that Lanan must come to negotiate an agreement personally with some spectacular new supplier of costly fabrics, and he left the next day with an outgoing train.  Somadi could have begged out of the invitation with no problem or offense to the Prince; but the social standing of the House of Nande would suffer among the nobles and gentry if she did so.  And Somadi had hoped as well that the night would prove a time of brief forgetfulness from her heartsickness.  But the hope was in vain.  The chatter of the people within, the perfumes and light, the food and drink, the comparison of dresses and the gossip over new scandals does nothing to help.

Waiting 1

She has already made her curtsey of duty to the Prince and Princessa; spoken with them more privately and personally as well, and spent an hour circulating among the crowd; but she cannot yet leave.  So now, for a short time, she wishes at least a semblance of quiet, and so she has come to the Court of Fountains, lit by torches and moonlight, to indulge in a ciare— a roll of smouldering dried herbs, imported by Lanan from a distant country beginning five years before, and now a strong sources of the House’s income — and rustles about, lost in loneliness that the fountains’ water will not wash away….

Waiting 2

Darkness closes about me again
As I gaze down the road,
No matter the lights and laughter,
The splash of water and the flicker of flame.
How many days since you left?
How many lifetimes since you closed our gate,
Promising that soon you’d be home again?

Waiting 6

But a handful of days, I’m told,
By my mother and my servants,
As if I hadn’t known.
But oh, how long those few suns and moons seem
Without the sight of your face,
The warmth of your brown eyes,
And the touch of your hand upon my flesh.

I won’t weep, I tell myself;
I will be patient.
You have gone before,
And have always returned.
But, gods of my mothers,
Without you, all is so empty.

Waiting 3

Our lives have changed so
Since our first long-ago summer.
Once I made my own dresses,
Spun my own yarn, wove and sewed the coarse cloth,
Wore beads for baubles.
My skin was coarse and calloused, not smooth,
And smelled more of garlic and roots
Than lavender and tube rose.

Now I wait garbed in glory, shining with wealth.
Marble benches and silken cushions make my couch,
Not wooden stools and flea-ridden woolsacks;
Servants obey me, instead of my own labor and sweat
To make our home.
One thing alone has not changed —
I would put all this and more aside
To see your dear face, feel your strong arms,
Or to lay beside you at night,
But the grass and flowers our cushion,
The stars our counterpane,
And your sweet body my blanket.

Waiting 4

What awaits you this time
On the road you travel?
My mother and the priests laugh me to scorn
When I say I wish you a boring journey.
They never had a traveler for a heart-mate.
What dangers will threaten you on the march,
What thieves in the dark, what perils in the light…
What…temptations…in the night…
To take you away from me?

Waiting 5

With you near, I live,
Every second a life of joy;
Without you, I die,
A little more each day you are gone.
Oh, wandering beloved, come home soon
And raise me from this living tomb;
Crush my lips beneath yours,
Touch my body with your hand,
And fill my heart with your love.

Harper Ganesvoort, 2011 and 2015

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Author’s Notes:

As you’ll see when comparing the above photos to the single one from 2011, I’ve used the same gown, but changed the hairstyle and jewelry for more recently created items, and added a pair of shoes on mesh feet.

  • Skin: Glam Affair Cleo (America – Clean B)
  • Eyes: PIGMENTS Retina Eyes Hi-Rez attachments (Ocean Small), over Sterling Artistry Jeweled Eyes (brightblue)
  • Hair: Hairoin Leviathan (Argent; vintage)
  • Attachments: SLink Avatar Enhancement Feet (Mid)
  • Brows: La Malvada Mujer 8 eyebrows (blonde)
  • Gown: Styles by Danielle Thousand (Silver) (NON-MESH, NON-MATERIALS gown)
  • Shoes: Pure Poison Olivia Silver Choice (SLink Medium feet)
  • Accessories: Miamai Rilla Satin gloves (White Small; vintage); Lazuri Heritage Pearl suite (bracelets, choker, earrings and rings)
  • Makeup: .:Glamorize:. Treasured Kisses Lipstick (Dark raspberry purple-red); Tattanooga Face Tattoo GLAMOUR 002 (vintage); *BOOM* Liquid Glaze eyeliner (lashed yellow; vintage)

Modern lighting systems and shadows, as well as a more powerful computer on my end, have allowed me to improve the overall look of the photos. I boosted the graphics setting to High (Ultra would slow things down far too much for decent performance, and the dress is too antique for materials), and aimed as ever for an effective, dramatic interaction of light and shadow to reach the desired mood.  Once or twice, I added as little facelight as possible with the FaceFX package, which is very versatile, and also made a blue lightball in at least one photo for the set (see photo 2).

I’ve used AnyPose Expression (available through Builder’s Brewery or on the Marketplace) for facial expressions, though many of the emotions available via an otherwise excellent HUD can be somewhat…overwrought.  For photos of a person desperately lonely, though, this may not be a bad thing.  Photographing from certain angles can mitigate some of the extreme drama in the sad/angry/etc. emotions available — see photos 4 and 5.  I also copied my shape and tipped the corners of my mouth slightly more downward to give a basic appearance of slight sadness.

The setting is on my own land.  I purchased The Eternal Palace from Tanelorn Manor Designs, a lovely build with scripted fountains, benches and fire urns, and added in some additional benches, torches and another fountain from other merchants.  I didn’t know at the time that the individual fire urns in the main hall could be turned off individually, else I’d have done that and improved these shots, which are pretty darned good now as it is.  Not perfect, but good.  Any road, I like the Palace so much that I decided to leave it up (sigh!), and raised it up on a sky platform at a good height over the house, below the starbase.  I have a setting for almost any situation now!

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