Journey From The Borthwick Inn
A traveler in my restless youth,
I lived to roam the ancient Earth,
It turned and turned beneath my feet,
Down every alleyway and street,
I searched each house for peace and truth,
And other things of priceless worth.
I feel a fool by writing down,
My only true-life fairy tale,
You see I fear you won't believe,
What I beheld on Christmas Eve,
Those years ago outside the town,
Of little St. Hieronymus Vale.
For in that village sits an inn,
Which used to be a barley mill,
Whose lights would glow in late-night hours,
Whose walls, in spring, would burst with flowers,
Whose paddled wheel would spin and spin,
When the summer stream came down the hill.
It was in winter's snapping chill,
When last I pounded on the door,
Which leads into the happy hall,
Where the Borthwick Crest bedecks the wall,
Between the hearth and window sill,
That night I drank, two mugs or more.
An auto-harpist in the back,
Played something which made me recall,
That it was the eve of Christmas Day,
At five o' clock, the sky went grey,
The keeper peeked through a window crack,
And said to me, 'Soon snow will fall.'
At nine o' clock, I made it known,
That I was looking for a room,
The keeper laughed and closed one eye,
'On the busiest night you happened by,
We're full! ' He barked; I gave a groan,
And hugged and kicked a leaning broom.
Such was my fate; they tossed me out,
For the broom came down on a patron's head,
He whirled around and beat the man,
Who tends the bar; He turned and ran,
But tripped and gave a hearty shout,
'Till every single ear-drum bled.
No sooner was I in the snow,
Than I was caught inside a storm,
The fearsome veil of whipping white,
And the darkness of the holy night,
Left me with no clear way to go,
My path turned wild and lost its form.
I saw one thing some yards away,
As I was stumbling through that haze,
The edge of the Forest of Ribbonwood,
Which local folk claim is not good,
To wander even in the day,
They call the place 'the haunted maze.'
A labyrinth it surely looked,
With naked, dead and gnarled limbs,
All covered with the fluttering snow,
Which seemed to drift and not to blow,
O'er that dark entrance, nothing shook,
I took my chances, running in.
That is where the tales begin,
The strangest Christmas fantasy,
Where creatures mythic and morose,
Some jolly, wild, macabre and gross,
Some shy and kind, some dark as sin,
Paraded in that wood for me.
Now as I sit composing lines,
Of feeble verse to share the tales,
I'm sure that now it would be wise,
To thank you and apologize,
The heart of the reader always shines,
And more-so if the writer fails.
One final warning I now give,
For Ribbonwood is vast and strange,
Free from the bonds of natural law,
(Or so I presume from the things I saw) ,
The way you think and feel and live,
If you go in, will surely change.
The things you'll see inspire fear,
And questioning and instant awe,
Much like our God and all his works,
His magic both delights and lurks,
On Christmas Eve, it's always near,
(Or so I presume from the things I saw) .
Leland D'Elormie's Other Poems
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