A Sailor's Quest

- jan-u-wine

There is
a new chain
about my neck.

(the other was

broken,
you know).

Hope holds to it,
enfolds what lies
there,
like the enveloping
hand
of the night sky
cradles the lonely
stars.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I stand beneath
homely trees,
solemn in their autumn-gold
cloaks,

and touch the promise
hidden
at my throat.

The Quest
opens
before me,
as if
it were a parchment,
and the World
a table
large enough to hold
it entire.

I see them…..

see them all…

changed…

unchanged,

memory filtering
like gentled sunlight
in my mind
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see a Spring
when the World was new,
and the stars sang only
to themselves in its dawn.

I see an eye,
an eye -
red,
furious
with fire,
graze
field
and Home
and sky.

I see the glint of gold
falling….

falling
beneath quieting
water.

I see summer
carving
its heavy heat
upon the river,
and
hands
embracing
waiting evil.

I feel a heart-beat
flicker

and end.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I see another summer:

a night,
shimmer'd
with stars,
fire-flies like the Netted Jewels
themselves,
lying upon the still
green-gold of the river.

I see the blunt
prow
of the boat,

floating,
wrong-side up.

I see her hand,

caught
by the waxen lilies
upon the shore.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see the Hill at Harvest:

fields, gold and orange
and earth-ribbon-brown
beneath a Sun bound for Winter.

I see the Party Tree
and the fireworks,

smelling of powder and night,
flushing sudden day across
a blackened sky.

I see…..

Evil,

lying innocent and silent
at my feet.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More harvests,

more

Springs
of gentle green,
more spent Summers,
more Winters passed within
sheltering walls.

And voices….

voices
growing,
whispering,

beckoning

in my mind.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see casements,
flung open to the dark
and an Eastern wind.

I see gold
nesting
within the fingers
of the flame.

I see flight,
and feel the the rush
of sweet grass
springing wet against my legs
as we pass.

I see a troubled traveler in grey
turning to meet the Storm.

I see my cousins,
laughing bold
and careless,

care-free,
within the fields of Home.

I see embodied
Evil,
like the silencing of Light,
bending
even mute creatures to its will…

standing,
like a sentinel of Night
against the shrouded hill……


following me…….

ever
following me.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see the Inn.

And a Man.

A dark and dangerous Man,
silent,
a pipe's red glow held
betwixt tightening fingers.

Cries.

Voices upon the throat of the night….

voices
from
the throat of the night.

Not for the last time,

I see marshes,
creeping, stilled marshes,
filled with death,
limned in shadowed white.

I see the spill of rock
where once dwelt
Light.

I hear the lilt of Pip's
small voice.

I see a form without face,
ragged garments flowing against
the tide of the night,

I feel the ice of his hate,
the heat of his malice
before even the blade touches me,
sends me to dreams of dread and desire. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see Light and an autumn caught
ceaseless
in a stilled current of Time.

I see a circle of the great and small.

I see a choice.

My heart slows,
stills
within me:

 

I see

no

choice.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I see the pour'd gold
of dying day
as we cross the bridge,

see the Light
turn to somewhat
else
as the valley becomes
as memory behind us.

I see the proud, bitter head
of the snow-held mountain….

and doors bound by silver runes
standing open to the lemon moon.

I see black shadow laid upon ever-darker dreams,
night,
endless,

timeless,
dealt out within chill caverns of stone.

I see fire -
ancient,
unbanked,
undying
fire.

 I see

a bottomless chasm -
a broken span

and you

falling
to unplumbed death.

I cannot see more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Time
resonates

here.

It slows and stops and starts anew
like the errant flutter of the golden leaves,
singing with each breath of what must
pass, in this land beyond dreams,

as wind.

And yet…..

and yet,
still,

I see.

I understand, at last,
I must see.

I see the Lady.

There is a star
upon her pale finger.

A Ring,
such as mine.

She will not,
can not
take this evil from me.

I see what must,
what will
be.

Even,
I hear her voice,
soft Elven words
running like silk threads
inside my mind.

Threads of silver air,
drawn from shores made distant by time….

I see her lips do not move
when she speaks to me thus,
nor mine, in answer.

I see a morning kept close in gold-grey fog,
and feel her lips in blessing upon my brow.

I see we may no longer stay here,

no longer
linger
where time does not flow outward
to meet its ending.

My hand finds her parting gift,
folds it against the tight beat of my heart.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~          
 
I see the mighty river of Kings.

Like a highway it is,
running broad and blue
beneath a sun-swept sky.

I see fear.

Fear in the face of my King.

Fear of him….
fear for him.

My thoughts run like clear water:

I see what I must do.

The boat, fretting on its line,
and the swift-run of the river
lie before me.

I see a lonely way,
and a Road
that I shall travel,
unseen.

I see the eastern bank
sliding close before me.

I see….

No.

I see Sam.

But he

sees only
a boat,

not
drifting,
as it should,
downstream.

I see I am not
invisible

to my Sam.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How dark it is upon this shore.

It is darkness  hardened,
driven by a world
which might never have known Light.

Here, I can not see.

And the Voices…..


the Voices born
of this small golden circle,

they rise. 

They….
speak
to me.

And I see.

I see a Man,
pinned by arrows,
dying in shadowed Sun.

I see great battles,
and the dead clamouring
within the realms of the living.

I see madness,

terror,
and a Lord I do not know
pulling his House down about
him in fire and despair.

I see my cousins.

They are young no more,
but frightened yet.

I smell blood and fire

and

death.

I see Merry fall.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sam is helping me stand.

It must not be much further,
now….

it must not be,

for the food and the water are gone,

as soon we shall be.

I really cannot see any longer,
Sam,

nor remember why it is that I hurt so,
nor why these strange clothes cover me.

I do not remember why I should struggle more…..
only that I must.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pain,
bright as sunlight.

I see…..

my own finger,
bone glistening white
against petal-sprayed blood.

I see
him.

My heart beats in my ears.

I see It. 

Desire. 
Fear.
Hatred.
Love.

Before even my mind can form thought,
he has gone.

And taken something I can never name,
(at least, not as he did),
with him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And now,

I see again.

and I remember all those simple things
that led me to this place.

My hand does not hurt any longer,
and the fire that swirls red about us
puts me in mind of the strawberries
you spoke of,  Sam.

not that I am hungry, mind you.

I should just have liked to have seen them.

and the fields, pearl'd with barley.

I should have liked to have seen them, too.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was a very long journey,
there

and back again.

A very long journey.

But now,
at last,
I am Home.

And all the little rivers still run,
swiftly,
as if naught had e'er changed…

and the fields ripen in summer
and fall to silence in the depths of winter.

And  the children.

Golden-haired and Elven-lithe.

The Shire has never seen such children.

I see them.

I see the Shire.

But mostly,

I see,
in the grey-rough bark of the tree,
in the endless blue of the sky,

in the green-gilt call of the river….

mostly I see

her.

At the beginning and the end of the parchment which is my life,
she waits.

 
The Sea.