Grendel’s Tale
Somewhere tonight some poet
is stacking words
like wood for the wild
phrases of a fire
the whole hall will stare
into. Already he is singing,
charging the air
with the shock of a battle
they must believe
as won. And if the door
opens it is briefly,
but enough to let the night
in. And later, as cold
seeps in to confront
its opposite, and all
are fastened to the glint
of flames, they will sense
in the smoke their own,
linked destinies, see
the flash of lives and in
the rich earth of ash
the rooted cinders, my eyes.
Already, it is evening.
Night, ashen with torches,
settles in my eyes
like sand. I would have
risen earlier, arrayed
with armies, against you.
But in that sleep
I felt your fingers
plaited in my hair,
your mouth closing upon
each eye and there were
voices, muffled, as when
I was younger
and you held me,
making each woman
wait. Last night, my father,
instead of armor, it was
your body against me.
Here is where his body
hung, looted and stark
against the sky, the coin
flashing from his mouth
all that remained
of the constellation
that bought his death. This
is where the knot
was loosened and he fell.

Now, stubble softens
and spreads. The whole field
shifts, fluid. Beneath this tree
that blooms in colors
of blood his face
floats up, his bones sink
and are betrayed by beauty,
by the green and shallow spring.