The Minstrel's Hearth

A section devoted to poems and songs


A poem by Melissa "Merlin Missy" Wilson (

First presented at The Gathering 1997 to wide critical acclaim and much applause.

'Twas the eve of "The Gathering," and all on the skiff,
Three of our four heroes were feeling quite stiff.
Their bodies were frozen in poses of rage
In case they should waken and battle engage.
Elisa her jacket around her had wrapped
In hopes of catching a well-deserved nap,
When all of a sudden, there came from the fog
The smells of New Jersey: diesel and smog.
She jumped from her seat, her slumber at end,
And then heard the wakening sounds of her friends!
The stone of their bodies grew webbed with large cracks!
They roared, and their eyes were white, like in attack!
The mists cleared around them, revealing a sight
They'd longed for, and searched for, for nights upon nights,
The City!  It glimmered, it shimmered, it shone!
The water seemed nectar, the buildings white stone!
For a moment, Elisa forgot dirt and crime.
"Where has that dumb island sent us this time?"
Asked Angela.  "Home," Elisa happily replied.
"At last!  We've finished Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!"
"Manhattan," Goliath, his voice all a'purr,
Said, "We must tell our clan about where we were.
We battled Sevarius, we battled with Brod,
We battled with fairies and poachers and gods.
And now we are home."  He smiled such a smile,
That the others did join him after a short while.
They docked their small boat, they tied it up tight,
They found a good perch and then they took flight.
Over streets, over 'scrapers, over cars, over trees,
They glided towards Police Precinct 23,
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But ... nothing.  Goliath said, "The tower *was* here."
Elisa said, "The castle has disappeared, too."
"My clan, my home, gone?  What am I to do?"
'Twas the night of the Gathering, and all through New York,
Things were coming together after months of hard work:
The sessions of fanfic, the sessions of talk,
The filksongs that happened at three city blocks,
They'd come in their buggies, they'd come in their trains,
They'd come in their cars and they'd traveled in planes,
From miles without measure, from right down the street,
The tall and the short and the weird and the sweet.
They'd come to the Mayflower, the fans one and all,
Like the throng they were named for, hearing some distant call,
From the top of the evening to early hours odd,
They'd come.  It was time for the Fan Masquerade.
The day had been filled with surprising new faces,
As people dropped in from all sorts of places.
Even Christi and Lindy, who'd said they couldn't go,
Had shown up with their confused hubbies in tow.
Batya the Toon was one beaming smile,
And Mae finally got to sit down for a while,
As Christine read to the assembled crew
*Her* take on "For It May Come True."
The Mini Clan chatted of Jedi and llamas;
The Dreamer Clan countered with Shakespeare's pajamas.
Leva drove all the way in her little blue truck.
Sir Jack showed his face, but dressed as the Puck,
Tara was dressed as an expatriate elf,
And Merlin sat quietly, talking to herself,
And Gorebash, and Ratman, and Mary and Jeff,
And Raptor (whose real name is actually Steph),
And Constance, and Kellie, and Mandy, and Rahat,
And Aris, and Chris, and all of the Scotts,
And Dylan, and Fan, and Stephen, and all
Had gathered tonight for the masquerade ball.
When out in the foyer there arose such a clatter,
That even Dave woke up to see what was the matter.
"I'm sorry," the Mayflower's manager cried,
"But we do not allow any animals inside!"
"Wait, sir," said our Mae, once again on her feet,
"Please do not turn these folks back out on the street.
They've come in their costumes, quite well done, I'll add,
And surely there's a little more room to be had.
Please tell us, dear friends, just who would you be?"
Said the woman, "Maza, detective, NYPD."
'Twas the night before "Gathering," and the Avalon Four
Had found themselves drawn to this hotel's front door.
Not a soul looked their way, not a shout, not a scream;
Elisa felt like she had walked into a dream.
This New York was not like the one she had known,
And despite her friends near her, she felt quite alone.
So when the hotel clerk had pulled them inside,
Saying only, "You'll need i.d.," she had nearly cried.
But no one was lurking to capture her friends
For any of a thousand devious ends,
And the people she'd glimpsed, through the just-parted doors,
Were dressed like ... gargoyles!  Fairies!  And more!
As she watched, nine Weird Sisters each floated right by,
And certainly Owen was one popular guy:
He had twelve imposters, all frowning as one
At a group of young women, who appeared to be nuns.
None of them pointed, although a few glanced,
And none of them ran, and all of them danced.
"What sorcery is this?" breathed Goliath in her ear.
"You've got me.  We'd better get right out of here."
"Wait," Angela reminded them, not without qualms.
"Avalon always sends us to be balms
To some broken thing, some heart or some mind.
We cannot leave yet."  Poor Bronx only whined.
"Let us 'mingle,'" said Goliath.  "Perhaps we will see
Why Avalon put us in their company."
They split.  Not watching, Elisa near broke her leg
Bumping into a man with a tag reading "Greg."
Angela found herself listening to three
Who argued just what her last name ought to be.
Goliath meandered near faux-gargoyle fen,
And listened, and noted, and moved off again.
The night grew much later, with much better tunes;
The dancing became more a way to commune,
Elisa jigged with Proteus Stout
(And boy, will he get it when his girlfriend finds out!).
The dj announced, to everyone's woe,
They had only one more song left to go.
A hand at her back, she turned to see whose,
And looked up to see the one face she dared never lose.
Without words, without thoughts, the pair started to dance,
And soon, the whole room was swamped with romance.
The spectators watched as the two dearest friends
Moved but for each other, until the song's end.
The room filled with applause, as everyone cheered.
The spell had been broken, and now the Travellers feared.
"What sorcery is this?" Goliath said in a rage
(Not remembering he'd said it on just the last page).
"No magic," said Mae, "But that which you made
By joining in our little fan masquerade."
"What do you mean?"  "Surely you see that this place
Is quite different from that which you thought you would face.
Here you are visions, sweet but untrue,
Of things that we all long to see and to do.
Greg birthed you, and Mike and Brynne nursed you along.
*We* gave you life.  *We* made you strong.
With stories, discussions, with pictures and dreams,
We made you into that now which you seem.
And surely you've read your Velveteen Bun."
"I have," said Elisa.  She turned to her One,
And said, "To become truly real
Is more than simply to breathe and to feel.
You must be loved."  With a gentle sweep of her hand,
She said, "They love us."  She did understand.
For as long as the singers do not cease their songs,
As long as the dreamers set to right all the wrongs,
As long as one person believes in them yet,
They will live, until that last one finally forgets.
The party had ended.  The four left to find
To the skiff in the Park, which they'd thought far behind.
The fans chose to follow, at a distance, discrete,
With grins on their faces and bells at their feet.
They waved a great sendoff, the fans on the shore:
The Sisters, the Owens, the Foxes, and Gore,
The tall and the short, the young and the old,
All stood together in one costumed fold,
And waved farewell.  Elisa waved back.
Goliath just nodded.  Angela sat.
They pushed the boat out into the dark sea,
Not knowing where their next adventure would be.
The fans heard them exclaim, 'neath a brilliant full moon:
"Good-bye!"  Much, much softer: "Those people were loons."

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Minstrel's Hearth / Page Copyright 1997 / Christine Morgan /