The Witch’s Tomb

I. He pulls a tattered coat tightly about his shivering body
Drags his way down a dim side street through a sleepy village
His goal the warmth of a welcoming hearth to pass the night away.
Behind him the shades of his past follow in somber procession
Calling his name, calling his name
But he does not look back.
Wings rustle in the night. The shrill cries of a raven above
Foretell of only darkness.
He presses on though the wind would stay him, biting at his hands and face.
His ghostly breath tears from his body. Clutched within his coat
A box of rosewood, his fingers tight around it, protected from the icy air.
Inside is that which sent him forth across the world
Through cities of gold and silver, fields of indigo, rivers of moonlight
Ever onward, ever onward
In search of its dread home.
II. The wooden sign on rusty hinges creaks in a winter breeze.
He is welcomed by a satyr to warmth and good company.
They ask, ‘From whence?’ ‘To where?’ but no answer is given.
Bright eyes, fair smile, soft laugh are his for the night
When dawn paints the morning lilac he leaves her a part of his soul.
He departs the den; the village falls behind him.
Swallowed by woods on an ancient stone path
Mossy, cracked, uneven, leading into the mountains.
Jagged peaks above rule over the forest floor,
Cast the lowly world in shadow.
Somewhere in the thinning trees his end awaits.
He ascends the rocky cliffs in search of the door to the witch’s tomb
Holding a part of her in the box wrapped within his coat.
III. Shadows beneath an empty archway mark the entrance to his goal.
The tomb breathes a heavy sigh as he crosses its threshold.
Deeper in the mountain the road winds its narrow way downward
Untouched by the passing ages.
A single torch guides him toward journey’s end.
The rosewood box grows heavy with the sorrow of return,
Weighs him down. Each step is heavier than the last.
The air itself clings to him but cannot stop his quest.
At its end he finds the witch entombed in gold and granite.
Exhaustion has him in its grasp.
Still, he has strength to uncover the beautiful evil that calls him near.
From the rosewood box he draws out a finger bone,
Her dead hand raises to grasp it.
Shrill laughter echoes in his ears as he flees that evil place
And the heart of the mountain is beating once more.
IV. In the village, locked in a room at the inn
He prays for an end to the terror,
‘I have fulfilled my duty,’ he says, but none hear him.
Sleep is elusive, for at night he hears,
Rumbling down the rocky slopes,
The terrible beating of the witch’s heart.
In his own flutter feeble yearnings to return to her tomb.
Soft at first, they soon grow into wild leaps that pound his chest,
Fill his limbs with movement that is not their own,
His mind with thoughts only of her,
Waiting within the mountain for her faithful servant to return.
She calls him back, she calls him back.
He must heed her call to quit the safety of the village,
Surrender to her will.
A candle is blown out. Wisps of smoke curl upward
Until a draft from the open door sweeps them away.
V. Creatures of the night prowl the forest as he walks the mountain road once more.
He carries no torch, but some strange power grants him sight.
He can feel her hand pulling him to her,
Her desire to consume, his feeble resistance growing ever weaker.
The arch stands before him, shrill winds howl from the depths beyond.
He crosses the threshold and the world outside is silenced.
There is only the deep boom of her beating heart.
The grave lies open, faint breath floats from it,
Caresses his frozen cheek.
Resistance melts away.
His hands are upon tomb’s edge.
He falls upon her, submits himself completely,s
And she claims him as her own.
His last breath is a sigh of relief, and with the strength of his life
She rises.

Original Photograph

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