This story is paired with “In the Court of the Dragon” from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
The coloratura sings a song in the key of yellow
and submerges her face in the lake.
When she comes up breathless she will never sound again
and retire to watering the peonies of the king’s garden.
But her sin is gone.
Cassilda cuts the coiled threads
from off her gold and sensuous head and drops them in the lake
for water rats to take and build royal warrens.
With that her sin is gone.
The jester pours a glass of wine into the Hali’s blue abyss.
For a moment the deepest purple stops all hearts upon
the pleasure barque
and any sin he had is gone.
Severn dips into that perse and smears it on his masterpiece,
the one he painted the night a six-faced angel
appeared at his table eating pears
and reaching for each glowing cheek.
His sin is blotted out.
The king who isn’t
nods to his armada, prepares to dive,
but he knows the Hali has a bottom
somewhere on a distant star.
He knows his mask will surface
in a new court, on the street of the dragon.
But he cannot escape the hands of a living god
and the king in yellow will bury all Carcosa
for that sin.