When Sophie was four years old, she declared, “I want to be a writer.” She wrote her first poem when she was eight, and gobbled up books and poem anthologies. Since then, she has been writing poems, novellas, and novels. Her poem “Black and White” was published in May 2014 in Scriblerus, Greenville’s Literary College Journal. She studied creative writing and poetry with fiction writer Peter Selgin and poet Carol Frost. Under Frost's guidance, Sophie was an intern managing Rollins College’s annual literary festival Winter with the Writers. She also had the honor of being poet Billy Collins’ student.
The Folly of Red and Black
The six petals shine in six hues of crimson red, nestled in a soft shroud of ruby red amongst the heart of black. Such a black heart slashing with the splendor of gold wondrous red, pursed lips shining with the darkness of temptation towards the beacon of blood—It sang back with sheets of ruby red, crimson red, mauve red, insane dormant remnants of suffering. The black, so gleaming black sealed the burning wax on the edict of elusive humanity Oh, such folly. Red to his black. The poppy was silent its spell done. Its black heart was silent to the petals of red redemption. A scab of sealing salvation, it hummed softly, softly. Skin red from delivering infection, blood droning under the welcoming black, frittering, crackling apart. Opening, the red mingled with the black, in a fey feuding folly of faith.
Slight figure leaning on the hard warm weathered wall, Katharos watches and gazes with all the yearning of the youth at the sprawled sparkling sea before her. The Aegean sea. Calm frothing waves of transparency lapping the shore, stretching to the unknown, to the more primitive lands
beyond. The little girl watches, a world of curiosity in her deep brown eyes, those wide innocent guiles, and she laughs a high crystalline laugh, in her strong soprano, lovely tremolos of inquisitiveness. She wants to see, she wants to know, she wants to discover one day those lands beyond. Defy the inferior rules designed for her gender, challenge and break those foolish ties. She sighs, a slim delicate lily in a halo of ivory purity, her robes flowing like silken petals to her feet. As she turns to the inside of her abode, a biting wind blows, throwing her long ochre tresses over her face, over her eyes, over her mouth; heaps of wayward hair a magnificent crown, covering her mouth in a stifling gag of burning gold, which she pushes away with a giggle and sigh, as she traipses inside. The sun flashes for a moment in the melancholy shadow of where she stood, and retreats behind a veil of gray, the Aegean sea dull and dark in the waning daylight.
A for Aegean. A for Anguish as Aegeus threw himself in despair in the abyss of the waters. Awls of sorrow in seas of silent agony.
Agony. This is pain. The little Greek girl thinks, head bowed, as her home is burned to a smoldering pile of ruins, as the invaders seize her town and the frightened inhabitants inside. Wetness on her cheeks. Little droplets of crystal anguish dropping, splattering on the unseeing ground, each the spontaneous shard of mourning cutting her heart in fragments of glass. As she is hustled away, arms bound in a cruel v behind her back, she thinks of her murdered parents. Murdered for love of her, for trying to protect her, in vain. Swords effortlessly sliding through their bodies, sharp curved blades slick with blood. Feeble of whispers of life fluttering away amid her screams of raw anguish. Amid the thick laughs of the invaders, slurred by Oriental accents of slaughter. Ashes of grief choking her breaths, the little girl watches as plumes of death paint the skies in swirling curlicues of fire. She watches and gazes and knows that never again will she be able to look at the delightful v's of her native island's birds' wings. Small v's of freedom and victory vanishing in the horizon. Extinguished.
E for exile. Walking, walking along the vanquished land to Ampe, the weeping Tigris.
V for vanquished, as again the brutal hands of foreign slavery anchor the chains of servitude to the wanderers of the native land.
A for Apathy. Dry eyes staring ahead, glazed and dull, as her heart weeps still. Apathy settling in her soul as her body is transported to Africa.
From glistening waters to brittle sand the slave prisoners are led. Whips scourging the air and breaking the skin of the slowest or resistant. Sand, deliberate starvation, sorrow, smothering the sedition of all, condemning the slaves to silent surrender. The sweltering sun blazing on all, brings darkened skin and strenuous heat, sizzling embers of rebellion in the heart not yet seduced. The cold moon chilling and chafing the bodies of all, brings biting daggers of final clarity and conquered realizations to cold oh so cold souls in perpetual frozen preservation.
E for exchange. Egyptians bargaining and bartering with the prize of the LibyoBerbers. Exchanging the souls of each for the body of one beaten slave group.
Imposing, intimidating stillness of the Valley of the Kings. Shivers of sorrow and laden stupor keep her awake, the little Greek girl. No, not Greek anymore, she thought, heart sliced open anew. Persian. A filthy arab girl destined to be a domestic slave and body warmer for the king if she was fortunate, according to the laws of this forsaken land. Stuttering breaths of restrained sobs, shaking her veil in a rhythm of a broken heartbeat. Fingering the sand, she lets it run through her slim fingers. Nature was freer than her, her fellow prisoners. Sand trickling a path of eternal mockery down her doomed hourglass. Suddenly, the tents heave and away they are blown, pushed by the giant hand of natural disaster. The word runs through the still sleepy huddled masses. Sandstorm.
And the sandstorm hissed its path to the travelers, rearing its hypnotic beautiful curves in a chaotic cloud of Armageddon. Waves after waves of confusion and blindness scattering here and there a slave trainer or prisoner. Katharos screams in fright, a howl of despair in the night, weeks of apathy reaching its breaking point and culminating in a stupendous tide of emotion. The biting wind blows, throwing her long ochre tresses over her face, over her eyes, over her mouth; heaps of wayward hair a magnificent crown, covering her mouth in a stifling gag of burning gold…Burning gold, melting her
being in liquid furnaces of panic and blindness, burning her innards in shattered remembrance of a day, so long ago it seemed, where she had laughed and sighed the wind away, traipsing toward freedom, home. Now, thrown, buffeted, blown, she staggers and coughs letting fate lead her where she can in a land of cruelty and the harsh unknown. Through blindness and darkness, she is led.
Led. Taking the hand of darkness, eyes closed, she breathes more easily, rocked by the comforting safety of blindness. Stepping in an unknown chasm of unsure security.
Stepping across the vigorous rocking of the hand of fatality. Herself. By herself, despite herself.
She opens her eyes, blinking away the grains of bitterness, and with a gasp of gratitude, she rips her veil in a multitude of slivers of fabric. Ripping her veil of vicious vulnerability. Anxiety broods in her heart, slowly overpowering the hope that had briefly surged in a traitorous mocking flare in her heart.
The pyramids. She was in a pyramid, the complex labyrinth of the well assured builders to guard the tombs of the mighty. Hesitantly, she walks, weaving in and out of the corridors of death; hushed breathing barely piercing the oppressive silence of the stale humidity. She trips and falls through this endless maze, the bruises of her body overshadowed by the panic squeezing her heart like a vice. A vice crushing the last remnants of hope as she tries to fumble a path to freedom. Faraway, unobtainable freedom. Chest heaving in pained sobs, she stumbles in a room, blinded by the world of riches and gold that clutter it. As soon as she steps in, she realizes that she can't move at all; not a finger not an eyelash. Trapped as a prisoner of opulence. A draft stirs the room, making her skin crawl, a deep foreboding seizing her being as a sudden glow emanates from the sarcophagus in the heart of the room. A sinister, threatening heartbeat of light expanding in a malevolent sinful crest of Tutankhamun's curse. A cobra of purest darkness descending on the girl in a suffocating embrace of gold, stilling her screams, and throwing her bodily against the wall, among the numerous vases and riches bidding good passage to the afterlife. Crashes and shatters and shards of pottery breaking, breaking in innumerous pieces, the contents spilling forth in indelible stains on the musty ground.
Gold embrace of darkness. Dark blinding pain.
They find the little girl in the room where the deceased Pharaoh was placed, face as fragile as the finest silk, body as cold as the coldest night in the unforgiving desert. Her heartbeat is a faint stirring of rousing life fighting domineering eternal oblivion.
The next time she opens her eyes, she is staring at a hieroglyph of extreme detail, richly encrusted in gold and jewels. Jewels and gold, leering down at her, sparkling in glitters of taunt and scorn. Gold. Katharos opens her mouth to scream, but a wheezing pant is all that is heard. Spasms rip through her muscles, and she thrashes in agony, utmost pain and suffering. Ropes of suffocating torture binding her body in the throes of pain, and she can only arch desperately, helplessly, as the curse ravages her to her very core. Not a sound escapes her parched throat. Hours of previous screaming have silenced her vocal cords. Her body lifts in a graceful arch, almost breaking her spine, and a grunt escapes her as she shakes uncontrollably, searing heat slashing with crushing cold. Slashes of light fighting with darkness, tearing her apart.
Torn. Delicate petals of a lily rent to fluttering debris of innocence ripped apart, savagely, cruelly. Broken. Heavy hammer colliding and shattering the slender vase of the torn flower, crushing it in its own cradle of extinguished virtue.
Crushed. Awakened hope pounded into nonexistence into oblivion forever, for eternity.
The darkness hounded her, hunted her, trapping her. She could no longer lead. She could only be led to her own hell. The darkness caught her and she let herself fall. Fall to unimaginable depths.
Falling in the deepest abyss of her being. Her darkest repressed desires stirring, reaching out for her, calling for her to embrace them. She let herself be led by the string of fatality, and she embraced them. The desires, the darkness. She fell and she led her fight to the quenched fire of defeat.
Brown eyes opening, pupils dilated in a sea of chocolate fighting with emerging forest green and startling lavender mauve. Skin the palest shade of ivory, hair the strongest hue of untarnished gold falling in graceful curves around her oval visage. Parted lips as red as undiluted intoxicating wine, gleaming temptingly in the gloom. Ivory incisors elongating steadily as the sun fell in the west, to rest peacefully on the bottom lip. Are you feeling better? The Christian serving woman says, as she ducks through the curtain of jewels, a cross laid out on the tray of papyrus with the helpings of food. We thought you'd died. She deposits the tray and leaves, robes fluttering, swaying away, sweeping away the last remnants of purity, as a snarl later and a clenched fist, breaks the crucifix in perfect halves. The wood falls to the floor in a dull thud, as Katharos' heartbeat resumes its gentle thumping. A howl of aggrieved realization resonates through the room, and transparent tears tainted with dark filigrees of red, slide a burning trail down her cold, cold cheeks, last vestige of raw humanity.
Buried humanity wrested briefly from the encroaching tomb of darkness.
Crystals of waning chasteness cutting a final path of agony before the coffin of a soul seals irrevocably shut.
Sealing shut. The lid of the oblong box enclosing her corpse, closes with a dull bump under disbelieving eyes. They had found her in the morning, laid out on her silk bed, arms resting peacefully on her chest. No heartbeat. No human touch could awake her. No marks on her except two thin lines of ashes of grief running from her eyelids to her Cupid's bow. The sunlight had regretfully, morosely caressed her still frame, shafts of light gently stroking her body swathed in white. It lamented the graceful curve of her peaceful smile, it grieved in dapples of radiance the angel laid to rest.
They attribute it to homesickness trauma. My how beautiful she looks. She would have been wonderful for the Achaemenid father and son, Darius and his son Xerxes, they say, and they admire her beautiful complexion, naively, wonderingly. But beneath the rose were the thorns and the ashes of forsaken freedom. Beneath it all, the angel had fallen to the cesspit of fatality.