In the grey dark of late winter, among the stones, ice tigers prowl the empty slates. Snowy gusts overturn marzipan sails, and we slide from the Turkish decks of scandal.
The blue-grey shadows fall on us from the hillside but she burns black, a dark lantern against the speckled snow rage. The cold swirls in smothering layers that swallow the light, and she burns blacker and blacker, this dark beacon, this summoning. Blinded moths hurtle extinguished into the dark star black hole.
At her centre shimmers a flame that burns without light. The lantern shutters flash and clatter to reveal a matchhead dark glow swaying upwards to its own dance. Untouched by snow or wind, untouchable, each leaping gesture throws wisps of smoke to wreathe and choke the night around us.
This is the end of misrule. Her order is the splendour of a self-sustaining chaos. No no, just because she has worn Nigerian costume does not mean that she is Nigerian herself.
She is the child of the candle.
I follow her flame as it burns out of the cellar, out of the room of mirrors, out of the walled corridor, out of the velvet hall, out of the puppet theatre, out of the bar with bare floorboards. Through the dancing flickers of her black combustion roam and prowl a dog, a tiger, a wolf, with human eyes behind their snarling foaming. She burns steel-grey with animal hair and black snow. She fears her candlehead will consume her, but it calls all those who also change themselves into animals to her side. Our howling will echo through the frozen rivers.