By: Paul Buchheit
Her lips, like unblossomed orchid petals,
pink and still, resting on a glossy bed
of fabrics that reflect glittery specks
of silver as lilac-drenched air settles
around us. Candles hint at life; instead
dance on her eyes, to startle and perplex.
For she remains steadfast in her retreat
to worlds beyond our own, a universe
where wind-borne whispering, a distant voice
rising and fading, hastens to repeat
its taunting and little-understood curse,
that resignation is my only choice.
I kiss her cheek and sing of cottontails
in the clouds and lavender ribbons soft
and silken on her ruffled party dress,
and ponies descending from fairy tales
with downy wings to carry her aloft
to magic lands of king and sorceress.
But she chose a path where powerful steeds
snorting plumes of steam and bolting at flames
that raged and ribboned through blackened terrain
inspired valiant feats of derring-do, deeds
so wondrous that as the vanquished proclaims
her brilliance, trumpets echo in refrain.
She stole like a satiny mist through lands
legendary with grandeur and danger:
the palaces of Xanadu - pity
to those who would heed not the reprimands
of a victor merciful, this stranger
at the gate of their Forbidden City.
The wrath of Alexander, son of Zeus,
Macedonian, no match for her skills
in acts of war, or her resourcefulness:
the celebrated Gordian Knot, loose
beneath her spell; and captive are the wills
of all who bow before the conqueress.
Mighty Achilles, slayer of Hector,
and lovely Helen, who coaxed men to war;
compare to their own this child's attributes!
In her sight their god is but a specter,
the brazen seductress of men a whore,
the heralded warriors dullish brutes.
All turn away from her in frenzied flight,
thrashing side to side like frightened sparrows,
stirring dust and grit in a rising gale;
impotent swordsman, an armorless knight,
a master archer stripped of his arrows:
with fists and bows and blood and brawn they flail.
But now, like them, she returns defeated,
snapping in the tempest, a sapling's bough.
As great machinery felled the phalanx
surrounding her, the battle conceded,
her spirit subdued, she heeded her vow
to remain to the end. Shall I give thanks
for this, or fall to despair? For she's crossed
endless worlds to explore the mysteries
beyond the stars, her destiny the grail
of the philosophers, who would be lost
as I, embarked on lonely Odysseys
seeking her trodden path, to no avail.
About the author: Paul Buchheit is a college teacher and the Editor and main author of ‘American Wars: Illusions and Realities’ (Clarity Press). He is also a regular contributor to Brave New World.