A/N: The structure of these drabbles is based on Wallace Stevens' beautiful poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" which I will adapt for my own nefarious purposes (the original poem is included in its full unadulterated form at the bottom).


I

Drosselmeyer sighs again at the endless sheaf of blank pages before him. They rise like impassable mountains and there are no words left in him to see himself across them.

He carefully sets to numbering pages. There, twenty. Just enough to pay for this week's meals. Twenty impassable snowy mountains, he thinks with the desperate edge of hunger gnawing at him. A drop of ink wells on the tip of his quill and falls. Beaded black, it glistens with the light of his last candlestub, like the eye of a raven; the only movement in the stillness of the pages.

He begins.

II

Watching Princess Tutu return the Prince's heart shard lovingly, her hands cupped over his chest as if protecting a flame, Kraehe is of three minds, like a tree in which there are three ravens. The prima donna envies her. Rue fears her. The raven's daughter hates her.

But in the end, all ravens hunger for the same thing and so Kraehe swoops down to seize the Prince's loving heart from Tutu and make it hers.

A part of Kraehe wonders what Princes Tutu's heart tastes of; she does not know if it's the raven in her heart or the human she wishes she were.

III

Duck watches Rue dance against Giselle's shade for Mythos and feels a longing pierce her heart. For the other girl's elegance, for her beauty, for some thing Duck cannot name but wishes for desperately.

Rue's hair flutters about her like raven feathers, silky and black, and Duck wants to reach out and touch it, to try its softness. Duck wonders if the desire is born from the bird in her or the girl.

Rue whirls in the autumn winds, a small part of the pantomime, the dance for Mythos' fate which Duck has for a moment, just a moment, forgotten, her eyes on Rue.

IV

When Rue looks at Mythos, half-raven and tormented by the memory of his humanity, she thinks a man and woman are one, and embraces him because he is her prince. Stiff black raven feathers press against her cheek, but he is hers, no matter what form he takes. She dances a pas de deux with him even as her heart breaks.

It breaks because she knows a man and a woman and a raven are one. They are all the raven.

V

Drosselmeyer sits back in his rocking chair, considering what his cogs have to offer him, and feels torn as any true connoisseur of beauties always is. He does not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections or the beauty of innuendoes, the ravens cawing despair or just after.

He does not know which moment he is anticipating more, Princess Tutu confessing her ill-starred love, or just after.

VI

When Fakir cannot find Mythos, fear stabs at his heart with a raven's merciless beak. This is more Princess Tutu's fault though than that damned raven Kraehe's. If Tutu had never meddled and set into motion a story that was best forgotten, never blundered her way into something she cannot hope to understand, Mythos would be waiting for him in the dorm room, safe and heartless.

Fakir gazes at the icicles that fill the long window with barbaric glass. The shadow of a raven crosses it, to and fro. The mood traced in the shadow is an indecipherable cause. He wonders if Tutu in her misguided goodness presents an even grater danger to Mythos than Kraehe ever could.

VII

Autor often wonders if he is the only one who can actually see; all the others are lost in fairytale dreams of Princess Tutu and do not notice the ravens in their midst. The sighted man is considered no more than mad prophet in the land of the blind. But prophets are only one step removed from poets, from writers.

O thin men of Goldcrown Town, he composes with an air of satisfaction, Why do you imagine golden birds? Do you not see how the raven walks around the feet of the women about you?

So lost in thought is he that he does not notice the grim figure trailing him.

VIII

Princess Kraehe slips on the Raven's black satin slippers and feels jagged glass and molten silver run through her veins. But there is pleasure with the pain, pleasure in the pain. A cold, icy music and the ecstasy of dance burns through her and in this pain-soaked pleasure she feels closer to true ballet than she ever has before.

She knows noble accents and lucid, inescapable rhythms. But she knows too, that the Raven is involved in what she knows.

IX

Drosselmeyer sits back with a pleased chuckle. There's nothing like dramatic irony to whet one's appetite for a story. Now all his characters think the raven princess banished, the prince's heart won by the pure love of Princess Tutu, the failed knight saved by the puppet who failed at being human. All's well that ends well.

But Drosselmeyer knows that when Kraehe disappeared weeping and the raven flew out of sight, it marked the edge of only one of many circles.

X

At the sight of ravens flying in a fading light, scraps of darkness unmoored from the night sky, even the bawds of euphony would cry out sharply.

The townspeople, knowing nothing of euphony with their cracked hearts, descend into the mad cacophony of ravens. Love and blossoms and easels and sculptures and ballet are all forgotten and only one cry comes to their lips.

"Hearts, please! Hearts, please!" they beg, they demand for what else do princes live for but to give their hearts to the people?

XI

The prince rides over the countryside in a glass coach with his princess, a scene from a fairytale. Once, a fear pierces him, in that he mistakes the shadow of his equipage for ravens.

It is in such moments of fear that Prince Siegfried knows the Raven lives, in his own heart if nowhere else, and he is not certain whether it makes him love Rue more or hate her. All he knows is that he needs her, desperately; having led him into that labyrinth of darkness, she is also the only one who can guide him out of it.

XII

As the rising sun clears the walls of Goldcrown Town, Edel begins to wind her organ, notes floating playfully in the morning air, mixing with the burbling of the river.

She has been sent out to guide a princess who is only a girl who is only a duck on the path of a story and she wonders if she hesitates to perform her part because she feels doubt gnaw through her chest like a woodworm or because she wishes she were human enough to feel doubt and hesitate or because her puppeteer wishes to give her the appearance of hesitation on a whim.

The sun shines on the river. The river is moving. The ravens must be flying.

The sun shines on her painted face. She is moving. Her strings must be tugging.

XIII

Drosselmeyer wrote and wrote and wrote. It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing and it was going to snow. A raven sat in the cedar-limbs.

They had come and lopped off his hands thinking it would put an end to his writing, but it only made his canvas larger. The pain was unbearable and he could do nothing in its face but laugh. And so he laughed, and pressed the bloody stumps of his wrists against the walls of Goldcrown Town, against the closed gates, and began writing out a story that would never end because his life would.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – Wallace Stevens

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.