Just the few on the very edge of the village
Sensed the approach and began the relay -
A warning, a preparation,
A river of fire in the light of day.
With a wooden staff and woolen hood
Tall, proud and silent he made his way;
And even the animals and sleepy birds
Made haste - yet with an air of wonder -
To clear the dusty road along the way.
And when he entered the iron gates,
The children, first to know and last to dismay
Began to gather in ragged clumps
No longer caring for ordinary play.
His gaze fell upon them there;
He seemed to see them years away
Down future roads where they must go
He saw them, old and bent and gray.
Then all the village left its work
And in solemn groups of two and three
Approached the dusty market square.
Mothers carried babes in arms to see.
The old and sick and lame were carried in
With great gentleness and care set down
Until the modest market square
Held all the folk of field and town.
He moved like a fish through a rocky stream
And mounted on an old stone stand
Turning a cool yet vibrant eye upon them all,
He gave his staff and cloak to loving hands.
He saw the old made young again
And noted every high or lowly soul.
He found the dream buried deep in every heart
And watched the crippled bodies turning whole.
When all was still and open and in tune
He unwrapped the tender bundle on his knee,
The morning sunlight glinted on the harp -
He held it higher for them all to see.
They waited, breathing all as if one soul
As he found the perfect tightness of each string
Then lifted high his head and with a smile,
Tuned his heart, with keys of love, to sing.
The words came clear upon the morning breeze
Summer’s joy and winter’s pain entwined;
The mountains called, the sea roared in reply -
Day and night became entangled in their minds.
He sang each heart and placed it on a star.
He freed each dream enchanted in the stone.
He showed them how the future would unfold
For the human tide and each of them alone.
It seemed a moment, no more than the kiss of the wind;
The golden harp glowed reddish from the setting sun
And something in his voice bid them awake
To find their day of dreaming almost done.
With sweet and final haunting harmonies,
He bid adieu to the magic of the day
And, leaving them in sorrow and in love,
He wrapped his harp and stole their dreams away.
Christine Natale's Other Poems
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