Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Requiem for a Fantasy

Head down she trudges alone
Through sleet and wind, on ice encrusted paths
In the distance lights twinkle
Tempting her to think of home
A rest for her tired body: food, fire, a bath
But her weary mind is wary
That way lie traps and lies

Step in front of painful step
The sting of icy pellets long ceased
Her face too numb to feel
She struggles on toward the glow
Hopeful that this time she might find peace
And kindness in a stranger's home
Instead of blood and death

Still a hundred yards, or more, she cannot tell
In her mind she hears the distant peel
Of a ghostly requiem bell
One step more, she trips and falls
She lies there on the ground, too weak to kneel
And whispers prayers to saints
Who never seem to hear

In the dark she reaches for one
Who'd been with her before the storm
Who once in brighter days had clasped
Her soft waist in his arm
But he had gone, had yielded form
Back to dust, in the beginning of the end
While she was left to survive

The numb begins to warm
The ice is softer now, the wind sings
Pleasant songs instead of ghostly howls
A wisp of hair, a chestnut strand
Blows across her face, as the requiem bell rings
Loud and clear across the barren wastes
Of a post-apocalyptic fantasyland


  1. This is wonderful! It really paints a picture...

  2. +JMJ+

    This had better not be the sequel to one of your happier romantic poems! ;-)

    Where is she headed, by the way? Not home, I assume from the first verse.

  3. No, this is it's own story. I wish I could tell you where she was headed as if it had some meaning, but it is a little bit nihilistic isn't it? She's a survivor, or she was, each house, each campfire a potential harbor for welcoming strangers, or enemies. I thought about appending a redemptive final stanza, but it seemed cheap and mood-ruining, so I gave myself a writing assignment instead. Hopefully it turns out.

  4. +JMJ+

    Yes, it's kind of depressing without a real ending/resolution.

    I remember John Lennon saying that as beautiful as Yesterday is, he's glad that he had no part in writing it because it's a song that goes nowhere.

  5. As usual, I could retcon in a bunch of meanings that were not intentional in the writing, but I'll 'splain what was there.

    It's kind of the point to be depressing. During our blizzard I joked about having a post-apocalyptic adventure and trekking the 3 miles up to our friends' house, living off of beer and bread, flour and water, and the like. And then I thought, huh, everyone always fantasizes about that sort of thing.

    So she dies, in a world where each house could be a trap, or abandoned and blood-soaked, in a world without saints, in a barren world, alone the survivor dies. Why in the hell do we fantasize about being the ones to live through it?

  6. +JMJ+

    For the same reason we fantasise going through a war and surviving with only a few scratches, bumps and bruises: we can't really imagine ourselves dropping out of the story.

    (I can really state the obvious, can't I?)

    It's the winter, isn't it? ;-) I recently read a post with a similar line of thinking on a housewife's blog--except that it ran in the opposite direction. Her home lost power for a few days and she wove a "Little House on the Prairie" fantasy for herself. I'm guessing that it's something about this season that brings out these survivor and pioneer fantasies.