Coming home in a windswept night,
Darkness falling, and us poorly prepared;
Setting out it had seemed so fair,
We almost believed daylight would never end.
Foolishness, perhaps, but permitted
In the joy of being together, allowing our talk
To wander even as our feet on the sun-warmed soil.
A walk taken in heartsease with friends
Early in the day under a sun-bright canopy.
Twilight crept up on us miles from home.
We never meant to stray so far
A light beckons from a window;
From out in the darkness we can see
That small point of warmth ahead of us,
Slowly growing as we approach.
Only a seed of brightness,
An ember among the shapes of trees,
Their black lace held up against
The lesser darkness of the sky above.
It pleases us, this path so clear and oft-trodden,
We have been weary of tree-roots, sticks, rough ridges -
Having known so many rough roads.
It grows but slowly, budding from
Spark, taking on the window's shape.
Has firelight ever seemed so fair?
It warms the heart just to see it.
The mind pulls away from the night's chill.
We have known so many cold nights,
And more than cold has made us shiver.
Places darker than pitch haunt memories
That are all too recent.
Dark times that make this night seem fair
One of us shudders, and forces memory away -
Another takes his shaking hand, and presses it
In wordless understanding.
The comforting light blossoms forth as we near it,
The door opened by some hand within.
Released, the firelight spills out over the threshold.
The tiny myriad shadows of every growing thing,
Surprised out of their plant-sleep by this
Un-seasonal light and warmth,
Sprinkle the front walkway and the gate
Strewn among petals of light.
Our cloaks wrap around us as we quicken our pace.
A friendly voice calls out in query,
Unafraid of those who come out of the night -
One of the blessings of peaceful times: we hear
No fear in her voice.
The Shire has flowered after the war.
Like waking from a dream...
Coming back to what is familiar and well-known;
Heraldry set aside, garden tools gathered back in hand.
Life unfolds slowly, resumes its ordered pace.
A comfort is restored and
Their nightmare ends, the people rest.
Except for one:
Tried in fire,
The one who lived past hope
Through deepest horror, shattering pain,
The darkest and the brightest paths.
Who held in his hand a Desire that forcibly captured his heart,
So overwhelmed his mind,
The desperate beauty of something that
Though he knew it was evil,
He cherished it close none the less.
It is gone forever, and he will never fully heal from it.
His flowering was untimely cut and withered.
Ah, to be filled and satisfied with small comforts:
Spring-times and summers,
Quiet woods and little rivers.
They no longer even seem quite real to him;
For he has known the intensity of waking.
He seeks in vain to hold again
The meaning in simple things;
The contentment in planting and harvest.
It slips away, like sand through his fingers -
Insubstantial and fleeting.
Grasping at gossamer wisps of brighter days,
He knows his home once felt full of life.
It once was his sole reality, but now -
To one who has seen the very heights,
And the very depths,