Roses grew from a reference I once read which I've been unable to trace. It's a piece of early law - not Brehon or Columba - in which the penalties for rape are detailed: so much for a touch on the ankle, so much for the knee, above the knee...and how to distinguish if the woman is willing or unwilling. If she screams...
It's about glass and reflections.
But you always knew I was mad.

Jay Tryfanstone

And if she screams (are there roses?)


He thinks they may have been lovers once but he can't remember now. When he remembers glass it cuts like a knife, ground obsidian, brass backed with snakes the colour of a fine grain malt. When the tower of his neck fell, did his eyes fall like ice or melt like copper ore? And the mirror of his dreams is black with blood although the gasp of him sounds like roses across a bleak and empty land. The gasp of him, the breath of him, as if a glimpse of paradise.

Which tower? What mirror? Whose body? What is the smell of death, burning? What lies are told in the golden depths of a whisky glass?

Glass is nothing but sand in his hands, when all is said and done. Crushed, it grains skin the colour of roses in the garden of the Alhambra...set me as a light against the dark: I will protect you. Love me. Love me. And if she screams, oh, if she screams, what is the cost?

Has someone brought him roses?

The scent of them wreaths like wine. Tessa liked roses, but Tessa is dead and gone and in her grave, where there are no words. Words cut like knives, when they spiral into darkness, a ladder of blades he treads with bleeding feet faltering. If he could cut the words away, what remains, what remains...but the sound of his voice?

We are nothing but our own image seen in a glass. The first mirror he ever saw was bronze...was silver. Was silver. There were no snakes on the glass, where the metal is worn so thin the pattern shows through, and the woman who owned it was red-haired, not dark. The first sword he owned was...steel, and heavy, and when firelight glints on the blade it glints silver, not red. His hands do not remember how to shape flint, and his first language is Gaelic. Four hundred years ago, he laid down with the white wolf of the woods and rose a man. Does it always come to this, the flesh, when there are no words, when everything falls together, implodes, fires, forges, strikes new metal out of the ore?

If he looked in the mirror, whose face would he see? Whose blood stains his hands, drips slowly to lie in darkling crimson roses on the polished parquet of his wooden floor? Whose voice gasps? Does it hurt, when we are born? Out of blood, out of fire - for a moment he thinks he can grasp it but the moment whirls away with the trailing gasp of another memory. Just out of reach, round the corner, behind the door, in the mirror - don't look now, she's only sleeping. Amanda's hair was red as fire.

The first woman he ever bedded had skin like the soft belly of a mountain trout, yielding under his fingers, heavy with blood under the flesh. Astonishing, the pale of her skin, pale as the moon, as if someone took the colour from the sky and painted it across her flesh. He thought she was a witch, before he killed her, but then he knew she was mortal. And if she screamed? Look, are there roses? How familiar is the smell of blood? If I were to taste you, would you share my skin?

He tells himself he never wanted this, but he did. Oh, he did. But the voice of him, at the last, the last cut the deepest, the gasp of him, as if, as if...were they lovers? Were they ever lovers? He can't remember, but the voice of him cuts so deep as if they shared a thousand pillows. Amanda's skin was soft under his hands and her smile so sweet in candlelight, but she never burnt like this. What has he done? All the songs are gone, but the voice of him sounded like the music was just out of reach, like sunshine chasing shadows over the mountain, after the rain. Too late, too late: if she screams, who will answer? Why didn't you scream? At the end, after she had gone, when there was only you and I, why didn't you scream? Tell me, I don't understand.

Love me.

If I turn the glass in my hands to catch fire, whose eyes will I see?