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Livana makes her way
slowly, carefully, meticulously
along the edges of the Crystal Desert,
as close as it is possible to go.

She keeps note
of the border chicory
and its warning colors,
the footprints of sandpigs,
the starry blooms of the madpot cactus.

Her sketchbook fills
with diagrams of the desert,
its little hills and cliffs and canyons
in all their soft strange colors.

The time crystals from this area
are poor in quality, often shattering to dust,
and the sand has peculiar traits.

Then there are the anomalies,
events that nothing in science can explain,
but Livana is not here to study such nonsense.

She has read the writings of Oranaan
and has yet to be impressed with any of them.

Livana cares only
for the scratch of ink over paper,
the glint of sunlight on facets.

The crystals here
include quartz and selenite alongside
the rosettes of gypsum and barite
with poikilotopic sand inclusions
called desert roses.

From the mines there are
the time crystals,
red for slowing time,
blue for speeding time,
which she dares not approach closely.

Now and again,
there are artifacts of Ancient make,
strange shapes of metal or stone
or materials for which no name survives --
most of them warped in some way
by the Upheaval long ago.

Livana would like these things quite well,
the crystals and the artifacts,
if only they would behave according to expectation.

Instead they seem to mock her
with flagrant violations of what should be
straightforward predictions of
physical and chemical weathering.

These are the extant examples
which prevent her progress:
for any theory she proposes
must explain all of them
or else collapse under questioning.

Livana sighs,
and nibbles the point
of her colored pencil
(which she knows that
she ought not to do)
as she paces along the trail.

These are very pretty,
very uncooperative relics
of geography and anthropology

and really, what is the point of a puzzle
that only gets less clear
the more pieces of it you put together?

Author's Notes

This poem came out of the February 2013 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a prompt from LJ user Vaerys. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

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Crystal Desert

Characters Featured:

Story collections:
The Experiment
All Empire Stories and Art
The World According to Rai
Muse Fusion, February 2013
Out of the Snow

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(These stories may be unrelated)
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