At Heaven's Gate
. THE MEETING
Alone one night neath lantern light, I trudged a weary mile.
Forlorn, I went with shoulders bent (the storms around me howled)
until I met a Silhouette behind a sultry smile –
She gazed with eyes that mesmerize (Her body caped and cowled)
and stayed my way with question fey... ‘Why don’t you while awhile? ’
The churchyard groaned, an organ moaned, the bells of midnight chimed
as wanton winds awoke and dinned, and mistrals multiplied.
A prostitute – not shrill but mute, with gestures pantomimed –
snuck by in haste, with tracks untraced, beneath the evening tide.
The Persian moon, like arced harpoon, arose and slowly climbed.
The Silhouette (a pale brunette) arched eyebrows meant to please,
and down the lanes, twixt windowpanes, the shadows danced and sighed.
A meadowlark within the dark, somewhere beyond the breeze,
embellished Her with wisps of myrrh while deigning to confide
to nightingales the whispered tales of human vanities.
She doffed her cloak before She spoke with tunes of sorrow sung
(like mandolins, as night begins, when mourning day’s demise)
and spun Her tale of grim travail and tears She'd shed when young.
As jagged volts of thunderbolts lit up the dismal skies,
the creeping fog concealed a bog in coils of curling tongues.
Through summer vales and winter gales Her secret thoughts were voiced.
Midst storms so cruel (neath lightning’s jewel that glistered on the ridge)
She reminisced, She touched... we kissed... Her lips were wet and moist.
A lighthouse dimmed, while moonbeams skimmed across a distant bridge
to avenues where residues of shallow shades rejoiced.
. HER TRAGIC TALE
“Midst sweet perfume of youthful bloom, the lonely spirit braves
and often cries and sometimes dies in quest of her amour.”
While starry-eyed, a ship I spied, a’ sail upon the waves –
The galleon docked, the seagulls flocked, the Captain swept ashore
where, debonair with gypsy flair, he led his salty knaves.
While passing by, he caught my eye – I tried to hide a blush,
for ambiance of innocence leaves fire’s ice congealed.
His gaze (defined by eyes that shined) beheld my cheek a’ flush.
I bowed my head while caution fled, I felt my fate was sealed
– a bird in spring with fledgling wing – he’d snared a falling thrush.
He said ‘Hello’ – I answered ‘No’ and yet before he’d gone
said I, ‘I’ll wait at Heaven’s Gate not far beyond the Pale’.
At dusk he came neath moon aflame, and left before the dawn
just humming tunes along the dunes that lined the sandy trail
beside a pond where morning yawned, where swam an ebon swan.
We met again, and once again, and once again, again
entangled in a love called sin, in whirls of make-believe.
While in my arms, with voice that charms, said he ‘I must explain –
the tide awaits at morning’s gates and I must take my leave’.
Then tempests formed and vapors swarmed in ardor’s hurricane.
‘Forsake your home and we may roam’ he smiled as if to tease
and still naive, said I ‘I’ll leave, in silver buckled shoes’.
He took the helm in search of realms, before the morning breeze –
with tearful eyes, I bade goodbyes with fare-thee-well adieus
and sailed above a wave of love across the seven seas.
We swept one morn around Cape Horn and sped for Gold Coast Bay.
With naught to reck, I strolled on deck, a baby at my breast,
while zephyrs blew and seagulls flew above the ocean’s spray.
Our ship soon moored, we went ashore and off to Fortune’s Quest –
with gold doubloons which shone like moons, he gambled through the day.
Two deuces wild... he thinly smiled... another card was drawn –
he called and raised with eyes half glazed, was dealt a dismal three.
With betting tight throughout the night, the final ace was gone
and so he lost... at what a cost... alas the prize was me –
with empty bag and pauper’s swag, he left me doomed at dawn.
A buccaneer with ring in ear sneered ‘now, my dear, you’re mine’.
He held my wrists to thwart my fists and then... my honor stained.
In midnight’s swash, the sky awash with tiny tears of brine,
I broke his clutch with nothing much of me that still remained:
a residue when he was through, left clinging to a vine.
In morning dew, the good folks knew, and spurned me in my plight.
The preacher man pronounced a ban and wouldn’t condescend,
ignored my pleas on bended knees and prayers by candlelight.
While cast aside, my baby died... my world was at an end.
Until this day, I’ve made my way beneath the shades of night.
. AT HEAVEN’S GATES
To set Her free from destiny was far from my design,
but, though unplanned, I touched Her hand to give Her peace of mind.
She told me then, and then again, that providence Divine
had cast a curse, and even worse: despised by all mankind,
She walked alone, unseen, unknown, Her soul incarnadine.
To break this spell of living hell, of loneliness enshrined,
and end Her days within the haze, a sole redeeming deed
would give reprieve and maybe leave our destinies entwined –
Her final quest be put to rest if only I agreed,
but no surcease nor perfect peace nor hope if I declined.
The shadows crawled and silence mauled, the night Her fate was sealed,
while towers peered or disappeared within the floating fog.
The skyline cracked and starlight slacked and chimes of children pealed
and in the hills (where midnight chills) there yowled a daemon dog –
with no delay I lead the way, the path to Potter’s Field.
Her weathered face was lined with Grace, Her eyes shone emerald green.
With me as guide she stepped inside to grieve and mourn Her loss,
and thereupon, though pale and wan, the night took on a sheen.
With weary eyes as Her disguise, She placed a wooden cross
upon a mound, unhallowed ground, and whispered ‘Sibylline...’.
A falling star flashed from afar and burst in bolide flame –
beneath the light, the final Rite no longer hid undone.
And kneeling there in silent prayer, we seemed to shed the shame
and could atone if left alone, forevermore as one.
Before we both could breathe an oath, I asked Her for Her name.
With lips, pale red, She simply said ‘Some called me Abigail’,
and neath a birch where white doves perch, I took Her for my bride,
beheld Her smile a little while, but all to no avail...
Her cloak and cape, and shrivelled shape lie empty at my side...
for now She waits at Heaven’s Gates, not far beyond the Pale.
Terry O'Leary's Other Poems
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