In my journey through the crags
Through snow-filled bowls of earth,
Through cloud-slicing spires of rock,
Through dead-frozen leafless bracken,
The Tall Lodge arrived softly through fog,
Bound beautifully by brick; by log after log.
In the groundless heavens over the cloud,
I knew the house had come from my head
But I felt the square-pattern lines in the log
And the carven shapes of men in the brick,
Each singing grim of harsh-winged beasts
With horn-pocked faces and snouts all creased.
I knocked thrice on the paint-stripped door,
And on the third, the lodge opened its maw
To reveal its candle-lit innards, warm and homely
To reveal an old man, warm and bearded.
“Come on in! You must be frozen!” he said
“Stay outside no longer! I don’t want you dead!”
The man was kindly and fed me for days
Before he had to get back to his work
On the enormous blocks of stone on the rug.
On the chiselling and carving of his art.
But before the first chisel, the man turned and said;
“My boy, why don’t you help me out instead?”
I spent the next days as the man’s student
Watching as the stone took on shape
Watching as horns and wings were cut
Watching as creased snouts were engraved.
Each one completed was fierce as the last,
Filling every corner once Frostfall had passed.
The ugly hoard now stood facing the door
Shoulder to shoulder, wing to wing
And the man, waving his hands, stood ahead and sang
His rising song in a guttural tongue.
“Children, come loose, your stone becomes skin,
Let your keen noses sniff out foe, o Gargoyle-kin!”
A knock came from the door, three times again
And the old man let the three robed men in
With their blazing eyes coming through their cowls
With animal mouths sneering shiny-sharp-swords.
“Carver, we’ve come to collect the Gargoyle haul.
Here’s the payment for yourself and your thrall.”
The foulest of the foul; vicious vampires.
“Why didn’t tell me that they were the buyers?”
The old man chuckled, and revealed his teeth.
I pulled a blade and swung for a heart
But with a snap of a thumb, the Gargoyles roared
And cast off their casing, and cast down my sword.