seven terracotta jars

a stumble in the woods, a wanderer
weighted down with collectables —
a twig from the hair of a goddess;
the gilded gleam from the blade of a knight;
seven single tears in seven terracotta jars;
a thousand lifetimes imparted to his heart —
yet here, dust and desert remains.

bones dried up in outrageous heat,
yet he staggered on, dragging one foot
then the other,
defiant.

thoughts were useful once,
he had kept them like memories of the old land,
yet here on the flat-baked wastelands, they were his master;
they kept him well, in solitude,
they were the shadow that prodded him before sleep;
the night-men whistling down the long corridor outside his chamber.

he became sick, sleepless,
desperately clutching to his collectables,
to his pasts, to his hopeless hope of home.

one night a fever struck so hard
he was bound and lost in swirling seas.
hours passed.
days.
weeks.
and he rode those waves like Ahab, clinging to the whale.

the conjurer appeared somewhere after three, or was it four?
time made no sense here, it was not liner,
it was vapour scattered on the breeze.

the demons danced around his head,
laughing like harlots,
cackling candle flames about is being.

was this hell?
was this, limbo?

when finally he let go of it all —
the memories, the tales from the thousand year storm.
everything he had so diligently collected,
when he opened his eyes,
was strewn like worthless trinkets on the tide,
and he, on the shore woke to starlight
and seven terracotta jars waiting to be filled.

© phillip mellor 2015

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