Mortualis

I look into the eyes of my mistress, and see an ember of hope yet burns.

She did not hear his heart skip as he promised he’d return, nor the cry of the infant daughter he’d made with another.
She did not see his late- night candles burning as he wrote love letters to her rival, pouring out his soul on the parchment, and on the morrow greet my mistress with a warm, false smile, a passionless embrace.

His mind whispered the name of the other, and shortly after he kissed my mistress, his mind whispered ‘farewell’.

For the loss of his love, she donned black mourning clothes, keeping vigil, a living silhouette against the gray sky and the churning chiaroscuro of the restless sea. Mizzle and tears mingled and beaded her eyelashes; through that wet prism, sitting on sodden shoreline rocks draped in seaweed and clusters of small crabs, she watched the horizon,
One day, a thread of humming harmonized the susurrating wave songs.
What sad and lovely melody is this you hum, mistress?
What primal melancholy chains you to these salted stones, the bell sleeves of your black dress fluttering, buffeted wings seeking shelter from the hurricane?
I took some steps toward her, and she let me perch on her wrist.
Teach it to me, that I may sing it back to you.
She looked right at me, as if she knew my thoughts, and began to sing:

“Love is the mask hate wears. Hate is the cloak of indifference.
“Indifference is the herald of abandonment. And I am lost in love.”
****************
She was patient with me, even as the words came with no melody; for all the sorrow in her heart, I could not become a songbird, but would have for her sake.
She stood to her feet, wiping a single tear from her eye, and when she looked at me, I knew I’d never see her again.

“You don’t belong here, noble raven, any more than I do. This is but an open and foggy grave. I’m leaving, and so should you.”

I heard her feet crunching pebbles into the silt, the steps echoing slightly between the sloshing waves as the gray day took her into its chilly arms, and hid her from my sight.
But the memory of her sad eyes and sweet voice felt heavy inside me, and I could no more take wing if a predator plucked me from these dizzying heights, bit me open, and supped on my heart.

So now I, a black-beaconed lighthouse full of darkness, keep watch from the watery, wind-ravaged stones, calling her letter to her lover, somewhere out there in the mist.

*art by Cindy Grundsten

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