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When he was fourteen Jaham got
the mystic mantle of his poetry.
The luminescent prosody
of a dying master
came down to him one day.
Jaham paid a visit to the bard.
The bard was portly and avuncular,
nibbled on pears and pomegranates as
they chatted, but was failing fast.
When Jaham went to leave, the poet
crooked a plump index finger at him, croziered
him over to the bedside where he urged
Jaham to bend close, bend closer, near his mouth.
With unexpected vigor the old man
sank two sharp incisors into the boy
–into his sweet and nearly speechless mouth–
and chawed him like an elapid,
working the poison well into his skin,
gnawing at his mouth till the hot bite
brought blood. And then he said,
The only antidote is in the bite.
Jaham went home writhingly and learned to write.
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