I Haven’t Done This for a Long Time (excuse me if it’s rusty)

Everything is dark.  

The sort of dark that is like a traveller’s cloak: your cloak. I imagine it over you, keeping you warm, its thick cloth wrapped around you against the cold of the night. The moors below might be the sea, so remote is the horizon, and this might be a ship, tossed about in the raging waters. The purples of the heather and auburns of the brackens are disappeared by the night sky as the moon shines a milky ribbon of moonlight, lighting your path home.

I know you will come back to me. I count the days. I have waited for you all these years, yet I know that you will come back to me, clattering and clanging through the dark inn-yard. I have seen you each and every day in the eye of my mind, riding along the road, horse whinnying and neighing as you urge it further and faster, faster, knowing that, at the end of the road is your Bess, the red love-knot still in her hair.

And, one day, you do come. I know that the waiting is over when I hear you whistling your tune. Blackbird. Chaffinch. Nightlark. I put my hands to my hair. Pretty Bess – that’s what you used to call me – Pretty Bess with the long black hair.

I hear you call your horse to a stop, dismount, spurs clacking noisily against the rough stones of the yard. I hear you raise your whip to tap on the shutters. They are closed, but I hope you will notice me, sitting in the window, as I have been since the day you left. 

I think about shouting your name. “It’s me, Bess. Your pretty Bess.”. I think about running down the stairs to wrap my arms around your neck. But I don’t.

You turn to leave, and I watch you mount the horse and begin the ride across the purples of the heather and the auburns of the bracken. I watch until you disappear over the horizon, my heart a ghostly galleon, tossed upon cloudy seas. 

“Why did you come now?”, I try to scream from the window of my prison. “Why did you wait all this time?”. 

But, of course, death robbed the sound from my lips, if not the emotions from my soul.

Everything is dark. 

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