Paying Dues

Smoothly cascading down the stone implacability of your expression, raindrops like tears tread the fissures of your age. Years like the passage of glaciers across the verdant plains of youth, seismic disturbance in the hard core of faith rent wrinkles like chasms in a face that chose to break rather than bend.

Standing there in spite of the raging wind and icy torrents, in opposition to the fury of winter that drove lesser men to cower beneath the shelter of timbers and warm beds. No leniency for such comforts in the cold glint of your eyes, dark grey and hard as the mountains they hail from. Wide  shoulders set square, feet planted like a stubborn oak, naked steel held firmly in one solid fist, dark hair lashing your iron jaw, calf-skin boots fouled with mud and blood, your clothing leached of color and black as sin, drenched by rain and the sweat of a thousand miles.

You look fierce there, like a heathen crawled forth from the forest, the remnant of an age when tooth and claw were kings of blood, a dark shade of war haunting the flesh of a man. So quietly threatening is your simple stance, a silent promise of death in your mute gaze. There would be no talk, I see that now, your anger has consumed you like a wound that festers and eats away the healthy flesh. There is no humanity left in your heart, there is no question any longer as to what may be left of the man you once were.

You look so vibrant, so alive. Even in your broken state, the power and passion of you seems to shimmer in your wake like a shadow. The storm itself seems to draw vitality from the raw force of your emotion, buffeting me with icy fists. You seem immutable,  indestructible, even beautiful, in your way. It is a shame you are about to die.

Your eyes now are red and raw with hatred, but I remember them clear as a mountain stream, laughing and liquid. The hands that grip your weapon of murder once explored softly the contours of my flesh, and the firm line of your mouth was once softly bent into smiles.

No more it seems, though I cannot help but envision these things as you stand there in darkness, sharply contrasting the sunlight of my memories.

There were daisies, ocean waves and a whisper of endearments. Footprints entwined on a bed of sand, bodies entwined on a bed of cotton. Pine tree scented kisses and dances in a moonlit meadow.

Yet of two worlds we were born, and the stamp of ownership upon highborn flesh claimed it’s right to my body. They tore me from the arms of secluded valleys and into the voracious maw of politics and hubris. Smothered me with perfumed empty platitudes and taught me  how to sing sweetly like a trained bird from my gilded cage, to greet the crushing of my spirit with perfect posture. Twisted and shaped, pushed, pulled and yanked about roughly on the strings of a marionette, a fish among sharks in an ocean of deceit.

Never did they own my heart, which stayed safely in the hollow of your chest through all those years of trial. The thought of you guided and strengthened me in the chaos of existence  but of course, there was no way for you to know this. You saw my failure to shed the chains of nobility as my abandonment of all that we had stood for. When we were young and tender, hands firmly entwined, bravely staring down the advance of night with that promise of forever, never knowing what that vow really meant. Failing to see, in our near-sighted youth, the impossibility of our love.

You condemned me as the epitome of rot in the foundations of our culture, another pawn for the games of power, another spawn of a self-serving ideal… Perhaps you have been right all these years.

It is a shame you are about to die.

Far away from the whispering pines and rolling hills, it was too loud to hear the cries of those who wept. In the bustle of court monkeys screaming, lace-clad trollops pandering for gold and cut-throat dealers pedaling lordships like cheap turnips, I never knew what became of that village so far away. When the river rose and took the mill, I did not know. When the mountain swallowed the school with all the children inside, I did not know. When the royal army took away the men and boys who were left and sent them to die on the Black Sea I did not know. When those few who returned from war to find their mothers, sisters and grandmothers sold to slavery by the very crown they had fought for, I did not know. When you saw that bloody parchment and the name scrawled so neatly upon the bottom, when the  rage and sorrow turned to poison in your veins and you came seeking my life, still I did not know.

“Sign here please Your Majesty.” And I do. Very elegantly and with a royal flourish, just like they taught me to.

I remember when you first kissed me, so shyly did your lips flutter against mine, like a butterfly sipping a sweet bloom. I recall the scent of wisteria wrapped around your blushing countenance.

Now you come for me in the lashing rain with agony in your heart. Once, you climbed my walls with a fist full of wild pansies, now you come bearing steel and death.

Perhaps my death will repay some debt owed to your suffering. It may be that it is my destiny to feed revolution with my unworthy blue blood.

My guards are always near, even now they rush to my side, eager to defend their egos and the image of a king. You may take my life, but they will not let you live to see the dawn. I could never tell you in words how truly sorry I am that I am not the man I once was. How broken is the soul that once knew how to suck sweet nectar from honeysuckle blossoms.

I offered you once my heart, and I never took it away. It is still yours to do with as you will, and I offer it to you now so that you may open it with your steel kiss, free me from my torment. It is fitting that my life should end where it began, standing here at your side. Perhaps in that fleeting moment before a last breath expels my spirit into the heavens, you will see into my eyes. Perhaps you will gaze once again so deeply into my iris, that you see yourself in my reflection.

It is a shame that you are about to die.


7 thoughts on “Paying Dues

  1. oh stop (blush, fan myself dramatically) 🙂 I’m still honing the tip of my pen, until one day it will be sharp enough to cut straight to the heart of a story. THEN I will write a book.
    Until then I will scatter little pieces like seeds 🙂


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