MARIE

By edenbray

I caught the end of that summer when mayflies hatch and shimmer briefly

She had intoxicated me like soldiers gin and the burr of overripe barley

Her smile as keen and hearty as a cluster of blossom grapes crushed and bloodied

Her long, lanky legs made her stumble and skip like a new-born circus pony

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The war had drawn the soul of a nation, defined in lines of raw and burnt sienna

but through the worst Marie had written letters in rosehip and pure, raw honey

Her soft, children's hands carried apples for winter and tied ribbons in curly gold

while she practised waiting for trains where sad stories may only falter and end

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She taught by the experience of artful innocence and a blind, sanguine opulence

These she wore like garlands of convolvulus and ivy both pretty, pale and capricious

Her tousled hair was a generous reminder of how water is both gentle and perilous

and I soon learned that it were better to watch butterflies gambol than try to catch them

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I caught her scent once on a trail at a Sunday afternoon traveling carnival and felt

I had never smelt nor seen a woman so fair or honest, she made the wind howl

and when that following summer certain boys in army flannel returned, arms full of care

I questioned whose need was greater those who fight or the slaves who govern the moon

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For Marie there were no questions only causes to be dealt with by patience and candour

while her blouse, buttoned and laced, enchanted me more than a mermaid or siren

whose spells I fell under without knowing name, birthplace or the deep-sea that roars

they were the many voices that called, like forgotten friends who appear in dreams

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It was again late in the burnt September that I heard a bird with the bluest, blue feathers

and knew he had slipped in the wind on his forage trail so I kneeled for two hours long

I drank of the hope he carried in that lonely night between marbled war and stoney peace

That bird lit a fire in my heart whose embers glowed and thrilled as only captains dream.


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