Written with a nod to the style and content of the classic Eldritch Tales, this poem plays with patterning as events unfold, maintaining pacing and holding a modern reader’s interests. Thanks Carly for this one.
Weary and crumbl’d, castle walls surround me,
Hard stone, now fallen away;
Left for a hundred years, a score,
Save for this wandering soldier,
Not lost, but seeking his ever more.
I pressed in, amid decaying ruin
Bush and briar crowding ‘round,
Now, long overgrown;
And passing through them
I was scratched –
By the thorn’d cobbled stone.
Blood streamed down my hands and thighs,
And I, did pause
Staunching flow as best I can;
And heard – a voice,
— strange and beautiful, echo off the stone
She beseeched me, calling for me;
But one in all the land –
She called, entreating
Her voice was my command.
The stories told me,
To be cautious –
But fear, now thrown aside;
I continued, pacing faster,
Sought out my heart’s delight.
My bloodied hands, now held aloft, away from briar’s reach,
I pressed onward, hands held high,
And preventing further harm;
Seeking mystery, I continued, pushing further on.
From the turrets, a nesting family
Of darkish rooks, called hoarsely,
Crumbl’d ruins echoing alarm.
And yet –
Branches seemed to part around me,
Thorn’d briar trembled, mov’d with subtle grace;
Roses bobbed and scattered petals,
Red droplets stained the floor;
And still pursuing, endless seeking
I sought my ever more.
With soft caresses, brush eased aside,
As I passed by; tangled briar
Now no longer blocking path;
But, instead, waving onward,
Seemed to beckon,
Entreated my behalf.
The door appeared, I’m sure it did
Where none was there before,
And at that moment the rooks
Set up their clamour’d roar.
The door stood waiting,
As though for me,
And only me alone;
Seizing the handle, I did push it;
Creaking, ancient timber shuddered,
And iron’d-hinges groaned.
And as it opened the silence struck me
— Quiet as a crypt
Then I saw her – it was she,
Hidden in the night,
The one I’d heard of, countless tales;
In that moment, door swung open,
I saw, my heart’s most truth,
She stood buried in the shadows,
Dark hair tangled ‘round her worn face,
She’d been waiting, endless waiting
— a millennium or more;
And as I stepped in, further,
The rooks gave up a final, fearful roar.
As I stepped in, the gloom wrapped ‘round,
She shrank back;
And door slammed in from behind;
She hissed – her terror causing, leaping,
Panick’d through my mind.
She stared at me, luscious creature
With eyes of ambered haze,
And hair hanging in wild tangles
About her wearied face;
Raising a single finger to her
Red, red lips of rose –
She implored me
Nary a single word –
Join her – in isolation
Together we as one;
Souls bound for all eternity,
Shadow’d existence, for forever,
Amid thorn’d cobbled stone.
I tried to talk – God knows I did,
But what the use is speech
To a creature, surpassing centuries
Barely living – or undead?
She hissed, and wavered, and
Implored again, with a
Silent threat –
Those eyes beseeched me,
Ripe with warning,
I hung my head, and shied;
I caught her smile,
Sharp fangs gleaming wide
And stepping forward
And met my newfound bride.
Carly Zee is a writer and dreamer of strange things. Her work appears online in different forms and places, including Scriggler and Shot Glass Journal. You can reach Carly through https://carlyzee.wordpress.com/