Artwork by Yvette Frahn
Written Response by Jenny Semmler
The shadows grow longer and darker, as the sky changes from brilliant blue to crimson and then the deepest, velvety black. Stars are scattered across the sky from an unseen hand, scintillating from horizon to horizon. The hush of the trees smudges a nightjar’s call, then even this falls gradually silent, until the only sound is the crack of the waxing frost. The night grows heavy with the possibilities of dreams.
Only the heavens move. The glittering moon sails above the trees, casting silver silhouettes on the frozen ground.
Faintly, the distant sound of a pebble dislodging cracks from a scree. A tranquil heartbeat of hooves grows steadily louder, until the air is drumming with sound. A shimmering silver shape dances down a moonbeam into the forest clearing. He lifts his head and sniffs the frigid air with quivering nostrils. His hooves ring like a glass harmonium as he trips and stamps. He wickers softly, then shifts excitedly from foot to foot, weaving a hypnotic melody with each click and beat.
An elusive harmony echoes from the shadows. He pricks his ears expectantly. As she steps from the forest the frost rings like a thousand chimes, swaying to her movement as she glides towards him.
He approaches her, neck arched, head down, mouth open, and lays his head in her hands. Notes fall from her fingers as she strokes his cheek, throbbing faintly. She throws back her head and sings in an elven tongue with a pure tone. His descending cry strikes and echoes from the mountains and forests.
She strokes his corded, glossy neck as they start to sway gently back and forth. The stars vibrate, humming softly as they shift their weight. She slides her hands upwards into his mane, weaving her fingers into the wiry hair, then bringing it to her face, she breathes in his strong animal scent, exhaling slowly.
They circle each other, slowly at first, each footfall creating a rhythm of starshot notes. Gradually they turn faster around each other, sometimes twirling, a circle within a circle, to look over their shoulder or pose. A dull violet luminescence shot with diamonds shimmers on their silhouette, turning and growing, pulsing to red.
She raises her hands and starts to clap a soft and complex rhythm. She turns her back to him and stamps her heels. He responds with a leap, a stamp and a toss of his magnificent silver mane. Her fingers click and flutter, speaking of love and loss and heartache. She draws fire from the swirling light, melting the icy floor.
He leaps and twists, his flashing hooves sending sparks into the night. The cry rent from his throat is wild, primal and untamed. She arches her back at the sound, standing proud and trembling, as the light around them burns hotter and whiter than the sun. Her fingers once again tangle in his mane as they weave and stamp and circle.
They dance until their sweat falls as diamonds onto the dewy grass, clouds of steam billowing from their nostrils. They dance an intricate pattern, woven from the beat of their feet and their flashing eyes and the siren song of the stars. They dance as the moon and stars wheel silently on their infinite journey through billions of years. They dance until they stand silent and warm, leaning into each other.
The silver light fades as the moon slides westwards. Even the light cast by their bodies diffuses to a glowing red, and finally to a black violet.
He shakes himself, diamonds scattering from his mane and tail to fall glittering to the ground. She rouses, and pulls her robe and shawl closer for warmth, each fluid movement chiming softly in the gathering dark. Stepping backwards, she holds out her hand one last time to stroke his brow, then turns and vanishes back into the forest.
He circles the clearing once or twice, tasting her scent on the air. As the last sliver of silver light stretches over the clearing he steps up, striking into the night sky, his hooves ringing like glass bells. He canters off as the last ray is extinguished by the early morning sky.
As the first flush of dawn creeps over the forest floor, it strikes the brilliant diamonds strewn with abandon across the thawing ground. And peeping through the fertile soil pushes the first buds of spring.