On a Darker Note

by Andrew Foote

The Resting Gate

Circles of rains wet sin upon the pavement's surface, crooked slivers of water running in between the uneven slabs, the sizzling sound of the downpour passed to a steady drip drainage of the sullen sky; moss marked the grimed path that leads to the pall bearers steps to the stopping place beneath the roofed gate where breath is regained by the carriers, the corpse still lies cold as that heavy quiet recollection. The grass is rippled as the wind rises, flowers closed and gathered like love's memories seem to mourn, or do they simply wait in nature's sleep, and the silence of this late spring season?

Dark draped, I hear the funeral drum, not beaten by an unseen hand, but that of my heart, the steady rhythm of a battle's end when evening draws her veil over the bloody soil before hero's songs are sung and only sobbing fills the field of conflict, faces sunk into the sod sip the dew of defeat, that damp despair that comes a little time away from night. Lips quiver and chests rise and fall in the quickness of life's final seconds, hands tremble and swollen tongues loll from muddy mouths, eyes stare blankly at the first flickering of stars; a wild dog sniffs at the carnage as arms are crossed over broken bodies.

On a cool day with the middle melting rays of the sun made ragged by drifting clouds, I remember you stood your hair lightly blown by the breeze, your fingers brushing back the blackness from the corner of your smile. A shadow fell across your cheek, and for an instant, held check your paleness. You threw your head back and laughed as a leaf twisted down from an almost naked tree. I saw you tremble, a slight chill as the air shifted, I came towards you and embraced your unclad shoulders, and as I looked into your open gaze, placed a single kiss where the bud of your lips waited.

Even then I thought of us there in death's entrance with our lives before us. I felt your warmth, the gentle swell of your chest against me; a magpie moved in the barren branches above as I held you close, your pulse playing against your neck and the nip of love with tongue and tooth I gave to that spot, the laces of your tunic settled like a lingering sigh upon your softness.

Sadness is all I am now left with, and the written word I put to paper to clarify my pain, or maybe it is so I do not forget a single whisper or a word you spoke; unlikely tho' that is, for I as an island in sorrow's sea surrounding memories as I lie alone every instant.

The fire of a winter's afternoon enters me like a sword, a window lit by a candle burns into my mind, the mist-ringed moon causes me to weep, and once more I pick up the pen and the blank page fills up from the fountain of my feelings. This emptying of emotion eats away at each line as if it were by this feasting I could become fulfilled.

The hour is late, the last letter is about to be born, but as it will be that parting piece, surely I should say it is about to die; so near the two, I wonder where they differ except like changing months, for which shall be called start and finish, December or January?

I lost you in the cooling of August's days, the brief brilliance building up to September, not that I saw them, for the bottle stole the coins from my pocket, and my tears any hazy heat left to fill the night with lightening's forked flame.

Now sleet showers the ground, the iced road has trails, wheel tracks like giant snail's silver beneath the moon along it. I am far away from these things. All are gone to the grave dug from despair almost three years ago, and so I rest, for dawn is sure to return, tho' often I pray for the pleasant slipping in slumber to everlasting peace.

This is not truly a story as such; it may even be a poem. There is an introduction, which you may have missed. No matter. Find it on Andrew's index page. You do need to read it, please.

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