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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


    He weeps, he cries.  Hear him blubber
    as he fumbles to expose,
    through a lyric superior to prose,
    the myths, the mystery of his people.
    Hyra-Khan, High Priest of the Sun
    in Argos -- city that knows neither
    north nor south, but floats in the ether --
    opens his mouth to speak it,
    THE CREATION, as writ
    by Jaf-El, the great prophet
    of Rao before the Flood:

    --    Darkness was, at beginning time
          and a molten mountain,
          Eternity's Rock, was its core.
          The Voice in the Rock spoke
          saying, "Let Light be once more,"
          and Darkness cringed and broke
          shattering outward in ripples.
          Shards of Light rained down,
          swirled into clouds of gas and dust
          and danced on for millennia
          before gleaming stars cooled
          and formed the galaxies to be
          by gathering matter to them.
          Planets circled suns, reaching
          as a babe for its mother's nipples. 
          To each world the Voice called,
          echoing over still waters
          wafting over green pastures;
          and, at the floors of many oceans,
          Life heard and crawled upward
          grasping for the land.
          And from the Light
          the Voice forged itself a Hand,
          that it might help its creatures stand.
          They stood, and seek the stars --
          Nothing too high, Nothing too far.

    From behind a grounded pillar
    of salt and sand,
    a starving, stained girl
    sees the priest stand,
    tear off a stalactite clod,
    and toss it into a ravine.
    He is mad; raving, even.
    "No sign to guide me?," shrieks he:

    --    No word from the Son?!
          What have we done
          to be deemed so unworthy?
          We made war, true,
          but we took the colony for you,
          Lord Rao, for you.
          We won the fight, detained
          the Council's surrogate
          (Kara's heart surged to a deadly rate;
           what has been her father's fate?),
          and so ended the reign of Science,
          yet still there is this awful silence!?

    As he spoke, his hands shook
    with grief; but (to changes tenses),
    he will not brook
    the tinge of disbelief
    moving to amend his faith.
    Not when he can rearm himself
    with the oldest of all defenses

    --    By Krypton's Fire Falls,
          I've had enough of pouting.
          This, your vault, still sparkles,
          slivers of your brilliance
          bounce off these briny walls.
          You will call again
          when we have purged the sin
          of this generation's rulers.
          Proper schooling for all
          will soon begin:
          I'll see your way
          reinstated.  Disciplines
          of old will start afresh
          the day I find me a disciple
          who has not tasted flesh.

    He stops.  The silence makes
    for a decisive moment:
    Hunger urges her from hiding,
    drives her to clutch his knees
    and moan in supplication.
    Groaning under the impact,
    he steadies himself, hides his face
    which, veiled in every place but this,
    has been a mystery to all Krypton. 
    Gathering his composure, he sees
    he'll soon get what he's been lacking --
    a student he can groom to lead
    the masses down the proper track,
    a kid to mold and wean
    and teach the things unseen
    as they were taught in days of old.
    The sage drops his hands to say,
    "Tell me your age, my son, and family name.
     I will pledge you fame, and much gold,
     and land enough to raise
     progeny who will praise you
     and carry on that name."
    Through grinding teeth, she gets out,
    "I'm only nine," then he:
    "Child, you are mine.  This is no game."
    He kneels and tilts her chin
    into the light, revealing to him...
    his challenge.  A female's not quite
    what he'd expected; still, he must not spite
    his Lord.  The rules will have to change.
    For her the gods have arranged
    a curious dilemma:
    follow pride and maybe be hanged,
    or lie to avoid that danger.
    She succumbs to the former.
    With an eyeful of hate, she grits
    those teeth.  When they part, she spits

    --    I am Kara
          daughter of Alura
          who is spouse to Zor-El
          the second son of Jor the First
          of the once royal house
          of Kryptonopolis.

    For the first time in a long while
    Hyra-Khan's cracked lips
    lift his beard in a smile.
    The irony is double:
    that his rival's spawn should seek him,
    and that she's destined to help him
    rebuild their temple up from rubble.
    Rao has a sense of humor.  Stunning.

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