The stones are worn down
Before the great gates of Irkalla
Where I keep my watch, night after night.
My tread has worn them smooth, my feet
With one goal only: to guard my Queen
From what part of the tide I can yet hold back.
My Queen, I watch the haggard souls
Come through this gate at your command,
Swarm at your throne, demand of you
Comfort, wisdom, judgment, harshness,
All that Life did not give them, this
They expect of you. And you give,
And give, until you are emptied
And hollow of eye. You take them into you,
Rebirth them again, to move on to new lives
Where they can rejoice in the Sun
And curse your name again.
I see your pain.
I see you weep and moan, your belly
Filled with grief, you flail alone
On the cold flagstones before your throne,
Dead men's castoffs clutched about you.
I would take from you these burdens,
O Ereshkigal, yet it cannot be done.
You must walk this path, for someone
Must be the Dark One, and not I. I can only
Weep in my heart for you, and keep my watch
And turn away the foolish, the unworthy
That you might be relieved of one small
Percentage of sorrow. My shoulders are bowed
With the weight of centuries, but it is nothing
To your road. How can I not be loyal
To the end, with your example before me?
O Queen of Death, I will never forsake you.
I am ugly, yet you find beauty in my constancy,
In my cold heart. You share muddy water with me
When those of the upper world drink wine,
And I give you always the clearest part.
I share your darkness, without complaint,
With red-eyed demons that cut the air
To dusty ribbons. The devourers at fine tables
Bright in the upper world, they laugh at us,
At our poverty. They do not understand.
To serve in luxury is easy. To serve in want,
In strife, in the tear-streaked dogged exhaustion of
Both master and man, that is where honor is forged.
To find one cup of comfort in the wilderness
And offer it up, that is worth true pride.
Yet still the fools come, to steal what you
Give freely to each shattered ghost.
I look upon them with cold eyes
And deny them entrance to smirk at our tatters.
Begone, you laughing vicious birds
Else I might pluck your glittering plumage
And leave your bones scattered about
The worn stones of my blurred gate.
O my Queen of all the black and howling winds,
I would die a hundred deaths before
I would ever let them see your pain.
© Raven Kaldera. Do not post or reprint without permission. firstname.lastname@example.org