(Arthur Rackham, Comus.)
Beyond the pictured rocks
where lichen licks the ground,
beneath the cursed moon
where even wolves no longer howl,
within the hills and valleys
of the darkest forest floor,
lived a man named Hermit
from the gold archaic shores.
He was made of leaves and branches
and the soil he traversed,
he wore the wisest lifetimes
that have dwelled upon the Earth.
From the clearest turquoise waters
in the deep, subconscious blue,
the old time-traveler came upon
humanity’s noblest truth.
It was just a small, blue marble
that washed up on lucid shores,
when he found, next day, within his hand
which wasn’t there before.
He had heard of magical objects
like this marble, often in jest,
still, he wondered how it came to him
and what powers it possessed.
Hermit roamed the Earth with just
this treasure and his past,
his mind was free to wander upon
existence, at long last.
He witnessed wondrous miracles
that most others never see,
felt the depths of empathy
where the mind is truly free.
By no means was Hermit a holy man,
yet, he’d seen a time or two,
occurrences lit unexplained,
no words to proffer proof.
He had seen some bearing torches
with their axes and their rage,
half-formed judgments, hunting witches
to their burning, exiled fate.
In a forest clearing where shooting stars
collect like dust,
survivors of the witch trials
piece their very own Sirius.
The walls of cavernous comets
climb the sky in shimmering gold,
each irreparable disaster,
like lotus petals, are told.
Behind tearful, dimming eyes,
they try with all their might
to break free of the hopelessness,
spread broken wings and fly.
Though his marble had gotten heavy
and his feet were swollen and sore,
he couldn’t bring himself to ask them
to bear half a burden more.
As he began to leave, to make certain
he did no harm,
one of the brightest dying ones
took the marble from his arms.
Suddenly something strange arose
like terror in her eyes,
a scorching, empathic realization,
a connection both were inscribed.
The powers this magical object held
suddenly became apparent;
it seemed to absorb the life experiences
of the person who possessed it.
The moment it was passed into
the hands of someone else,
the marble made it possible to feel
what the previous holder felt.
After offering Hermit a place to rest,
the outcasts chimed their goodbyes
as he set out alone, once again,
beneath dying, existential skies.
Through the Hawthorne and Clover, the prairies and hymns,
over each disbelieving trespass,
Hermit collected each chaos like a quantum scar,
and with his marble he continued his path.
He was looking for a Queen by the name of Wretch,
for, this Queen Wretch had it all,
she had riches gold, she had tubs without mold,
she even had a dog named Raul.
Queen Wretch’s reputation was luminous,
her tantrums as known as her greed,
though it seemed lately Queen got a bit out of hand
so perhaps she’d need learn to take heed.
On his journey, Hermit saw over-turned tables,
he saw Redwoods and Elms snapped in half,
he saw wolves with three tails, peeped green, slimeless snails,
could have sworn he’d seen a motherless calf.
All the gnomes and elves who guarded the Queen
spoke in strange little symbols and codes,
they had much stranger methods to silence all creatures,
strike fear right straight down to the bone.
The Queen and her minions built castles and bridges,
they sent waves crashing down through the sky,
they trenched one’s worst fears, redirected wind shears,
made sure there was nowhere to hide.
A war-torn world the city became
under the evil Queen’s rule,
friends became foes, so tragic how most
intellectuals were mocked as mere fools.
A practical nature, Hermit possessed,
yet, a seeker of spirit and height,
he knew no one could grow under Queen’s reign,
as there seemed never an end to the night.