Awakened to an eerie self-examination of the soul
on the steel-cold surface under surgically precise lights
unentombing cancers, contagion-carrying arteries, dismembered
corruption to the dispassionate gaze of an Enemy brooding,
Still sweating under the administered fumes seeping
through pores, guilt-driven language of parents driven
from home to carnage of children preying on children, warfare
of wretched depravity in the eyes of a man, a woman seething,
Cannot speak, cannot hear, cannot see, cannot feel anything
but the weight of irreversible fate, the darts of the Enemy
injections of delirious oblivion only to awaken to endless night
where no refuge lies from grief and fear and the hate pursuing,
Helpless, my tongue dry, the light dims, darkness closes in,
but a voice is heard, a minister to prophesy over the bitter
collocation of bones, unholy, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!”-
prophesy!- in the body and the blood a Life that is not mine breathes,
It can’t be smoke that drives you here like a leaf
Caught in a funeral pyre or a sinner fleeing in shame!
What fell blast of Hell’s eternal fire brings you, cruel shade
Upon my porch, and feeds the tendrils of your fiery flame?
Begone, you ghost of the foul-mouthed past that stalks
The children of men, to warn of never-ending death
And griefs that ne’er can mend! Begone upon your walks
Of doom and leave me to life’s revelry and vice
Until its trinkets be a dream and I a shadow like you.
The four friends sat in the pale moonlight beside a flickering fire. The youngest of them was just short of thirty, the others led by four or five. They had long met in this clearing by the marshes, surrounded on all sides by woods. As the darkness grew heavier, their thoughts turned inward to the Marsh Fiend of Vetiver and Thyme. She travelled alone like a ghost far from home luring travelers to her side. And once they had seen her and gazed quietly at her while she smiled her forlorn smile.
It sat on the shelf like a glowering menace, dusty with age and disuse and fine cobwebs like a gauzy shroud. Even buried as it was behind apothecary jars and pestles, it was still the first thing the visitors to the six hundred-year-old museum wanted to touch.