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After the world was broken,Author's Notes
but before it became whole again,
there lived on Stone Island
a girl named Grabeir
and a boy named Dlon.
Grabeir always desired
the finest of things:
knifeshells instead of plain clams,
sculpted coral beads instead of discs,
and fabric dyed in the most vivid colors.
When they were ready to become adults,
they set sail with Grabeir's father,
an explorer and trader who traveled
from Stone Island to the smaller Pig Island and
the even smaller islands at the edge of the world.
Suddenly the weather turned fey and wild,
a fierce squall rolling out of the east
where the sky normally lay quiet
as it piled up against the barrier
that marked the world's end.
The ship Sea Swallower was forced to land
on the tiny fragment of Tooth Island
where nobody wanted to go
because the barrier cut across the land
rendering it barren.
Warily the sailors ventured ashore
to seek materials to repair the ship,
pointing out to Grabeir and Dlon
how the changing seedheads of the beach grass
and the different colors of warefruit revealed the boundary.
But the boundary was not where they expected --
the older seedheads and warefruit
showed where it had been,
but the younger ones looked normal,
as if the wall of the world had somehow vanished.
"Oh, look!" cried Grabeir.
"There is a jewel hanging in midair,
like no other jewel seen before.
I must have it for my own,
for nobody else has its like."
"Then I will get it for you,"
Dlon vowed to her.
He drew his good steel knife
and reached for the jewel that was
as brilliant as the deepest blue of the sea.
But the moment Dlon touched
the strange blue jewel,
he screamed with the voice of a madman
and withered to age all in an instant,
and fell dead upon the ground.
Grabeir was sent back to the ship in disgrace
while the other sailors grimly continued their search,
discovering that the tiny fragment of Tooth Island
was rather larger than they had believed,
rich in hardwoods and other resources.
They avoided the sinister gems
and soon slunk back to the Sea Swallower
with severed trees and baskets of fruit
and barrels of sweet fresh water,
made hasty repairs, and set sail for home.
It was the Captain's Word
that Grabeir should remain
forever a child, never a woman,
for her unchecked greed had cost the life
of a good and honest sailor.
In time, the Stone Teeth People
explored the new expanse of Tooth Island
and settled there, but always they passed on
the warning to avoid the Glutton's Bait
and never to take more than they needed.
This poem came out of the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from Ellen Million. It has been sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette.