Dandelion Clocks

Author: Alawa

Nominator: Dwimordene

2005 Award Category: Books/Time: Post-Ring War: Gondor Drabble - First Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: N/A

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Arwen remembers Eowyn.

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

I had to actually think a lot about this drabble. There's so much to find in it and I quite enjoyed the hunt. Prima facie, it is a story of mourning—that last line is fairly suggestive that the occasion for recollection is a funeral, most likely Éowyn's (although I like the idea that it could also be Aragorn's). But to stop at that would be to cheat oneself of one hundred quite marvelous words that do far more than tell us a funerary tale. It's all about time, which we might expect in a drabble where an Elven character and a mortal are portrayed together. We begin in the past, with the recollection of an endless moment. Thus we start, essentially, in two very elvish modes of temporality: the past and present, with their connotations of the static, the inert, the by-default-restful. The seemingly timeless present tense of Elvish existence is captured as a present oriented towards preserving the past. This backwards-glancing aspect of the present is evoked both by the fact that this is a memory and by Éowyn's telling of the collected folklore of her people—their past, endlessly re-presented for its own sake. Yet even here, in this first, most elven, paragraph, there are hints of the intrusion of a different, distinctly un-elven temporality: there are children present; love, romantically associated with the eternal, is tested in the transformation of flowers to puff-balls; and the hours are told, yet we know this is a telling that cannot honor the past but depends rather on the incessant advance towards the future. This futural dimension is most evident in the middle paragraph, in Arwen's recollection of the dandelion seeds that "reached beyond the rim waiting for the wind to carry [them] away". The seeds reach beyond themselves—beyond the source of their generation and their 'ground'—towards something other that will catch them and transport them away to another place, destiny unknown, even as time pulls one up by the roots and drags one beyond oneself into the openness of the indefinite future. All of this, however, takes place in Arwen's memory, and Alawa imparts an immense sense of distance from that past, which is evoked by a hollow dandelion stem falling to the earth—presumably onto a grave site given the veil Arwen wears. But at the same time, that veil has symbolic work to do: it is not there simply for decorative purposes. Rather, it stands in for the ambiguity of the present and suggests the meaning of this scene: by virtue of its position in the drabble as well as its being a physical barrier, it separates Arwen from what has passed even as it separates her from the inspiration to memory (the hollow stem). Of a sudden, at the last possible moment, Arwen comes unmoored. Is it the stem that falls away, or is it Arwen who is losing what has connected her to Middle-earth? One might as easily say that it's her own ground that's falling away, that she assumes the seed's eye view, and that she stands now on the cusp of that journey towards what is unknown, towards really leaving her elvishness—rootedness in the past and the eternal present—behind for a genuinely mortal futurity. Death and birth, appropriately enough in light of the connotations of floral symbolism, find their connection in Arwen in that moment; nevertheless, there is a beyond of that closed cycle, which haunts the drabble, and suggests the Gift of Men that transcends the bounds of the finite. So in closing: read this drabble; take it for all it is worth. Thank you, Alawa, for perhaps the most suggestive one hundred words I've read in quite some time.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

I was not aware of the folklore idea of dandelions being used to "tell time" until Tanaqui wrote a writers' circle piece several months ago where she also used the concept. Maybe it's a British, or at least non-American, concept? It's an interesting one, and I think you used it to good effect here. Your use of imagery was also strong, and you did a good job of creating a plausible post-War of the Ring moment in so few words; none were wasted.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 4

Beautiful and moving. I love the imagery of the dandelion clocks and the flowers. It almost read like a poem in places. But the final paragraph, as Arwen watches the stem return to the ground through a veil, was particularly moving. It's like she's seeing the closing moments of a cycle that will repeat itself eventually. I just hope she can understand that. Good drabble.

Reviewed by: Lindelea  ✧  Score: 1

Haunting. Nice use of imagery. Astonishing, how much can be said in 100 words.

Reviewed by: SilverMoonLady  ✧  Score: 1

I can practically see the brightness of that day, and the feelings the memories must invoke for the Queen. Well done!

Reviewed by: Rabidsamfan  ✧  Score: 1

A lovely drabble but sad. The imagery of the dandelion is very powerful here.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 1

What a lovely memory of friendship, with the sad undertones of loss at the end.

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 1

Lovely, poignant use of the imagery of the ephemeral flower, full of bleakness in the last line.