Song of the Songstress - L. Long

She built a world
that floated in the sky...

He was always building
Something,
Something great;
Something that people loved and needed.

They loved him too,
The Builder of their gifts;
They were in awe of him and sang his praises.
She sat by
And watched with a resentful eye—
Pen in hand, trying to build
Worlds
But no one could see them
All they ever saw was just what
He built
And they praised him
And she wondered if she
Could ever be like him.
He built a house
Its foundation was on the rock
And the people praised him and marveled
Because it was beautiful
And though the storms beat against it
It did not fall.
She built a world
That floated in the sky
All reality and physics defied
And of course
They could not see it
She looked over to where he was
Surrounded by the people
Secretly she marveled at his work too
But outwardly she just glared
(And secretly she loathed herself for the ugly bitterness in her heart)
He looked up at her
And smiled
As if he'd seen something just as marvelous
As what she saw when she looked at his work
And for a brief moment she wondered if,
Somehow, inexplicably,
He could see
The invisible worlds she'd created
But then she became afraid;
Because if he could see that,
Then he could see all the ugliness in her heart too,
Couldn't he?
So she looked away
Averted her gaze
And tried to hide
In the world she'd created
That no one else could see
(Except perhaps him)
(But she didn't want to think about that)
A while later she looked up
And there he was
Building something new
Right beside her.
A wondrous structure
Something new
Something even more
Beautiful, and marvelous
than the last.
She was torn between
Awe—
For she was deeply impressed by the beauty that flowed from his hands—and
Indignation—
How dare he build on her territory,
Her world she'd created
(Never mind that nobody could see it, it was still hers)
(But maybe, on second thought, he actually could see it, which made it even more infuriating, because how rude)
Wasn't it enough that he got all the love and praise
Because he'd been blessed
With the ability
To actually do something useful
While she sat in her pile
Of stories and songs
And wished that they could come true
But then he said,
"Sing something for me.
One of those stories
Of yours
About the world above
And the God who is love,
For it always inspires my work."
She stared at him
And suddenly wanted to cry
Because she finally realized
That both of their creations
Were meant to bring heaven to earth
But that perhaps his had done the better job-
Because he had done it out of love
And she hadn't.
She felt wretched for it,
And did cry, then,
For she saw the vanity of all that she did;
Because where would she be,
Without his work always pushing her to want to do more,
To create something
Just as beautiful
As he had?
He was just as much of an inspiration to her.
But he gently wiped away her tears
And held her face in his hands
And said,
"Let us create together
Side by side
And together we will make
Something beautiful."
She looked into his eyes
And then she smiled
For it was then that she realized
that all she had ever written
Had finally come true.
L. Long resides in Eastern Oregon, where she plays shepherdess by day with a herd of goats and songstress by night with her piano and ukulele. She has a BFA in Theatre from New York University and, when the goats are done being milked and the homestead is done being tended and nobody is watching, she enjoys reading, dreaming, and acting out fairy tales.

Cover by Amanda Bergloff

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