Steeped in salt and smoke,
mystical tonics; no one says dying
though the king drowses every day in torpor 
thick as a winding sheet. Some say a trance 
and some, a curse. And with him, the land
is cursed: bare trees, dry pods, fish gasping 
for water. Aratiles fruit that rattle in the wind. 
Read again of the three sent to find for their lord
patriarch a remedy: for rousing him out of his 
stupor, for waking the limbs and lifting the body 
out of its bed, they'll walk beyond the border in search
of something they're not even sure exists. Only one 
will see through ash and stone, will bring back a lyric
unsullied, from the mouth of a coppery-tailed bird.

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