May 24, 2024 Poetry

Other; In Her Tavern; Rubble

Other; In Her Tavern; Rubble Artwork by DALL·E

Faces shift in my dreams
from us to them and back.
They are with me, free
in that place: my people,
cast out as Other from this civilized
world, huddled
in the back alleyways and imprisoned
in their homes.

One person cannot wage war
for millions and yet I do:
night after night I shiver and shake
with the pain
of my people. I hear
their fears and their hopes; I see
one world jig-sawed
with another,
one level of awareness
laid on top
of ours: a filter
that makes us

In the night we meet.
We speak
in our forbidden
language; we pretend
that the world doesn’t belong
to someone else. I tell stories
of how the world could be, of how
love might touch us here, someday,
of how one day
these whispers in the night
might be songs in the day, a gift
our children
—or children’s children—
might be blessed
to receive.

And as we linger there—love
the touch between us, shrouded
in the protection
of darkness—the night breeze
carries my words aloft
like wishes
on the wind.

In Her Tavern
In the tavern
that she used to love, I
sit at my usual table, listening
as an elven bard sings
of young love
and a rowdy table of dwarves
slam their tankards against the wood
and laugh, and the silence
of my table clings to my skin
like a spell amidst the joy
I cannot feel.

Glass shatters somewhere
and there is cheering as I
pick at a plate of food
I never eat but always
order, my eyes
on the battered doors leading out
into the night.

Meet me back here, she said to me
those years ago, and so
I come each month
on the night when the moon
doesn’t shine, turning
the ring she gave me
on my slender
scarred hand, and wonder
at all the questions we never learn
the answers to, and whether
we would really want to know
if we could.

I stand here:
an empty meadow,
the wind hushed
like our voices, blocks
of rubble disappearing
into the green-gold
grass. A window,
here, a door,
there, nothing
now. I remember
the tower I knew,
the tower I cannot
build again. I walk
across the dust
of mortar, grass
brushing my ankles, feet
calloused from living
down here. I remember
the wind of dreams
and the vistas of privilege
as I return to my lean-to, see
the others through the trees, quiet
and forgotten—the poor,
the disabled, we casualties
of an ignorant
world: broken-hearted soldiers
just trying to remember
why we’re here.