roesslyng: (SSSS - Noita)
[personal profile] roesslyng
Title: Tarja the Boat-builder
Fandom: Stand Still Stay Silent
Characters: OCs - Tarja & Vesa Tikkanen
Rating: 13+ & CNTW
Length: 200 lines poetry/1k wordcount
Summary: Do you remember, dear Vesa, our life before Kajaani?
Other: Long poem describing the life of two characters from the group I've been writing who live in Kajaani. Warning is choose not to warn for potentially upsetting not-canon-typical content (though it is mild - see rating).

Tarja the Boat-builder

I've taken into my mind
got it into my head
to sing as I wait
half-in and half-out
on the sharp edge of life
on this cold river's bank.
I sing in silence,
in my head, in my heart
in this wild dark no sound will do.
There are watching eyes seeking
and waiting ears listening
and who knows what beast I'd attract.
So I sit here and wait
at the last of my strength
not moving one step,
slumped against this tree
and fighting off sleep.
The bottle that brought me here
has long been emptied
and the footprints I left
are confused and circling
and I've searched by the stars
but my vision has failed
and blurred beyond use.
My rifle is yours if you find me
and the knife, my nephew, if you seek me
when daylight comes
when bright morning calls.

Do you remember, dear Vesa
life before black Kajaani,
on that cold, sparkling bank
on Ontojärvi's shore?
Where your parents fought back darkness
and I, happy, practiced my craft
built up boats for fishers
vessels to patrol the shores
and light-running ruuhi
to go downriver
bending to the call of the navigator.
My hands were strong
steady and sure in those days
and you watched with wide child's eyes
as I shaped boats from nothing
worked as if by magic.
I am no Väinämöinen
but I didn't need to be
to turn out something lakeworthy
make river-boats to be praised.

Your parents named you Vuokko
but you, whispering, lips at my ear
asked to be called Vesa,
said you'd be a man
when you grew older
and I saw no need to contradict you.
When the darkness came
and swept away your mother
devoured your kind father
consumed my dear brother,
I dove deep into myself
sank to the lake's bottom like a turtle
and only when you asked me
"Where is the old Tarja?"
did I open my eyes, blink a bit
and have moments of sobriety.
So I put hand to wood
and brought forth the boats
and on days drink didn't claim me
my hands were sure and steady.
And one day you asked me
if I had heard from Jussi
if he had sent word, given notice
that he would come calling
and I could only say with honesty
that I hadn't heard a thing.

One day I decided,
got it into my head
to pack what we had,
fill up our boat
pile it high with what little we owned
and set our sights west,
row out to cold Kajaani.
This decision was made with a gut full of liquor
and a heart and head aching
for a face I hadn't seen in years.
Long-haired Jussi
who steered his boat
with hands like a lover.
If one person on earth
could reach me, grab my shoulders,
haul me up, pull me from darkness
he was the one who could do it.
Rotten luck, we discovered
as we got there and found
the river had taken him,
dashed his brains on its rocks
and claimed his life months ago.
So we settled here, tired
nesting on the shores of this bustling village
as nothing remained
and no one called us back
to dark Ontojärvi.

Vesa, dear Vesa
when I don't return, seek me
take up my body with your strong hands.
Bring it home, bury it
so I will pass on properly,
and not wander this world
lost and screaming.
Nephew mine, take my gun
claim my knife for your own
and build up your world
with your sturdy stubbornness.
You'll do a better job of it
than I could ever manage.
The cold gnaws my bones
and freezes my eyelashes,
still I will not move from here,
won't stir one bit
until I have both feet in the river
and cross into Tuonela.
The eyes that are out there
won't devour frozen flesh
and when you find me tomorrow
there'll be enough to bury.
Put my body in the ground
to rest as I have not rested
and sleep as I have longed for
after this period of darkness
after all these years.

Do you remember, dear Vesa
in earlier days
when my brother lived
and your mother thrived
when my hands shaped wood
as if it were clay
and light glittered on the water
by sweet Ontojärvi?
Do you remember the day
when I gave you a knife
its handle turned by my fingers
carved by my own hands?
I taught you to use it
and watched your eyes flash
with surprise and then love
as I called you Vesa.
Our lives were dangerous
but happy back then
before all that we had crumbled
in dreary Kajaani.

I have regrets, my nephew
and if I could repeat it
there is so much in life
I would change, try again
smooth out and carve anew.
I'd stay my course
pull myself from my swamp
and raise you up properly,
take my responsibility seriously.
I'd lift you, hold you close
help you become a man,
be the mentor I should have been
or pass you to another's teaching
as maybe they, far better
could make a mage of you.
But I do not regret
letting you flourish in yourself
calling you as you pleased
shedding your ancestor's name
like a snake casting its skin.
And I do not regret
letting you move as you wanted
wearing your father's clothing
taken in and shortened
to fit you properly.

Know this, young man
that I've left you knowingly
and abandoned you willingly
but I know your strength
and I know you'll keep going.
You can do it without me,
and of this I'm certain:
you'll make a fine man some day,
though others will need convincing
but you'll show them all
as you grow into your strength
as you become more yourself
without me to drag you
down into my darkness.
Come find me, dear Vesa
track me as I taught you.
Take my frozen hands
sweep me onto your sledge
and bring me home, put me to rest
give that sleep I've craved
since your father fell
and my brother died
when you were younger
and we were together
in Ontojärvi's forests
in another life.

Date: 2016-11-13 12:48 pm (UTC)
minutia_r: (Default)
From: [personal profile] minutia_r
Oh no, how awful--you draw such a clear and heartbreaking picture of Tarja here. And it's interesting, because this isn't written in Kalevala meter, but the turns of phrase and style of repetition invoke it anyway. It's really beautifully done.

Date: 2016-11-14 05:16 am (UTC)
yuuago: (A Redtail's Dream - Kantele)
From: [personal profile] yuuago
<3! Thank you! Fff hopefully I'll write more with her some day, because I love her a lot even though she's kind of a mess toward the end of her story. :')

Re: Kalevala, I actually borrowed a lot of phrase-forms and vocabulary from the Bosley translation, so similarities are very intentional!

I'd love to hear from you

Feel free to talk to me! It's very appreciated. You can comment logged-in or anonymous.

September 2017

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