A Single Kiss
A poem for Aragorn the healer
On the crisp white linnen of the sheet
A broken body lies.
Her golden hair is stained crimson,
And death from the shadows cries.
Her face is paler than lillies,
As hard as graven stone,
And the shieldarm upon the coverlet,
is shattered to the bone.
Lost I wander in death's dark vale,
Drowning in horror and dread.
O'er charred corpses the Morgul-Lord rides,
Trampling the sightless dead.
Kneeling, I place my hand on her breast,
That is still and cold as ice.
It is I who brought her to this doom.
For me she paid this price.
Grief and remorse overcome me,
I bow my head in despair.
And a single tear falls like silver
To lie in her bloodstained hair.
All about me lie stricken warriors,
Twisted in mockery of life.
Broken and blasted and bloodied,
Clutching weapons of terror and strife.
I gather her gently into my arms,
Cradling her slender frame.
I gaze into the frozen face
As I whisper her beautiful name.
I crush two leaves of Athelas,
And the scent of them fills the air,
As if come new-made and wild
From snow-mountains silver fair.
Into my dream falls a living voice,
Of one whom I gave up for lost.
And urgent, despairing he calls my name,
His touch seems to lighten the frost.
Silent I stroke back the curtain of hair
And my hand caresses her brow.
I think of the love that she bore me,
And what it has brought her to now.
For a moment I close my eyes in pain,
Remembering my betrayal.
And my rough hand lingers on her white cheek,
Unmoving and deathly pale.
He holds out a hand to bring me back,
But I will not hearken to him.
I loved him, and he betrayed me.
About me the dark closes in.
"Thou knowest that I cannot love thee,
Save as sister, warrior, friend.
But for thee I would gladly surrender my life,
I am thine till the bitterest end."
A single kiss upon her brow I place,
For atonement, love and yearning.
And beneath my lips I feel at last
The warmth of her life returning.