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Poems for the People   -  Poems by the People

About the Poem

In many ways, our environment, and the changes around us, serves to make us who we are...and sometimes we become that which we despise.

A Few Visitor Comments

I liked it because it was about a time and place I have not experienced myself.

The Wintering

I was young, a scarce five winters,
when I lost my life and began my death
I still see my father, standing proud,
strong and hale.
He smiles at me,
granting a conspiratorial wink.
I remember the battle cry echoing
throughout the forest deep.

"Crux mihi grata quiess!!"
resounding, returned.
Thunder roared and down they rode,
black as death upon wild beasts,
drumming, trampling down the village watch.
Those of us who dared to arm
faced the penalty of their sin:
not death, but a crippling blow.
I bore witness, by my mother's side,
of our judgement from above.
I felt the air throbbing,
ringing to the drums outside the ring

Doom Doom Doom Doom
slow but steady,
ominously striking as horsemen withdrew to higher ground.
I saw the wolves.

I saw wolves.
Screams mingled with the drumming
as the wolves were sent to feed.
My mother snatched me off the floor
and holding me, ran out the back,
running for safety,
crushing me into the cold, white snow,
feeling my mother above me,
hearing her scream.

I hear screams drums wolves.
I feel my mother shifting, moving.
The snow turns pink.
I hear the sound of gnashing, rending,
babies screaming, silenced by snapping.
I hear the laughter,
I hear the crackling,
I smell something burning.

My mother's touch is no longer warm.
Trapped, I dig my way free with numb fingers.
I see the pale sun shimmering,
hiding behind black clouds boiling,
rolling into the sky.
The wolves and horsemen have vanished.
I look at my mother and stumble,
stifling the scream in my throat.
I don't want them to return for me.

Slowly, I walk to what was once my village,
my home.
Amid the ruins of our hut
I see a shawl.
A baby's shawl.
My brother's shawl.
Crimson and steaming on the earthen floor,
the last thing I see,
drums echoing in my heart,
my mind.

That day I lost my life,
watched it bleed and burn
to the earth from which it sprang.
I left that day,
taking only what I could carry,
the shawl tucked in my belt,
leaning on my father's spear,
his sword and shield upon my back,
slowly walking south
into the lonesome wood.

But that was three and twenty years ago,
letting the drifting snow bury my dead.
Now I ride,
father's shield on arm,
sword at side,
spear in hand.
The head and pelt of timber wolf
I wear over hauberk, dearly bought,
watching as the wolves descend
upon the crippled warriors

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© 1999 Alastair Adamson Please respect the rights of the author and Passions in Poetry. If you would like to use this poem on your own web page, please contact the Author. Thank you.