Just So Story (The Four Faces of Luck)

Just So Story (The Four Faces of Luck)
E.P. Beaumont


When we left the Original World,
four faces of luck followed us.

As the story goes,
Luck’s avatars got onto the journey-ship
in spite of attempts to exclude them:
cockroach, crow, raven, and rat.

Cockroach is the favored child
of the Skeleton Lord
who presides over extinction.
After the great lizards, the mammoths,
innumerable birds and fishes,
and very nearly our own kind,
the roaches we have always with us,
even among the stars.

Crow, circling battlefield bird,
reminds us it’s only following in the wake
of our long-standing habit of killing each other in heaps.
The Regent of Crows presides over mortal ventures.
She promptly strikes down any who neglect
to beg indulgence for betting against the house.

The Old Man of the Ravens
learned things the hard way.
He traded one eye for wisdom. A poor bargain,
say his Raven companions.
Monocular vision, no matter how enhanced,
loses most of the picture.
The Ravens range the world for gossip among mortal and immortal,
things you thought you knew,
things that turn out dead wrong.

Last of all comes Lady Luck, leading
the dancing chorus of rats both white and black.
Persistent, clever, adaptable,
Rat Clan nested in the wiring, scratched in the walls
as those walls, with their human tenants,
hurtled into space.

I’m not sure I believe the just-so story.
Scorpion is no longer with us; she
exists only in our ancestors’ constellations
which we wear by way of clan sigils
or given names, for luck
and for remembrance.

Our ancestors left on the last ship but one.
Crow, raven, cockroach, rat:
the scavengers,
carrion feeders, signs of ill-luck,
stood patron to us, the last and all-but-luckless.
Luck finds those who need it.

We don’t know what happened to the last ship.
The fiery column of our departure
obscured its shadow on the ground.
In our travels since, we’ve found the bones
of the ones who went ahead of us:
the ones who left us behind,
the ones who abandoned us to whatever luck
might find us by chance.

E.P. Beaumont writes poems, novels, and stories that explore the turbulent boundary between the fantastic, historical, and futuristic. An active member of on­line and local writing communities, Beaumont co-founded Big World Writing Club in summer 2011 and has served as a National Novel Writing Month Municipal Liaison since 2014. Follow on Twitter at @epbeaumont or visit epbeaumont.com.