In the distance you see her – skirts clutched, she stumbles toward you, through the vast cavern. Far above, the ceiling collects and spreads darkness. But a vague luminosity of indefinite source slides over her form as she runs. This pale glow gathers in the folds of her dress, defines the wayward strands of her hair. Observe — the knot of hair at the base of her neck works loose.
Catch her, as she collides into you. Feel her shoulders convulse as she weeps into her hands. Sense her exhaustion, her heartbreak. Hear the tumble of words pour from her lips.
Listen — to her sad story. Of drama, deception, heartbreak. Of the man she had loved, had devoted herself to. See, as she speaks of him, his image grow in your mind – a tall man, regal in bearing, a cascade of bright black hair. Dressed in antique style, in blue surcoat and white lace cravat. Wonder how she could not have seen the arrogance, the cruel calculation in his eyes, how she could never have suspected. Oh, but she knew now. When their son reached 15 years of age. Then, she learned. The ugly truth. That she would be drained entirely of blood to sustain the boy, that her whole purpose had never been otherwise.
So she had run. Escaped. And now, feared endless pursuit.
Accept her head within the curve of your neck and shoulder. Accept her sobs. Embrace her. Hold her tight, steady her as her body wracks with spasms. Take her narrow hands in your own, and lead her from the road, away, to the field of chrysanthemums. The flowers bloom in a grid of formal lines and rows. Bright clusters of yellow, earthen amber, pale lilac, crimson, pearl-washed moonlight. Draw her down beneath the petalled rays, beneath the leathery green leaves. Kiss her once – lightly, gently. Swim with her, along the tilled earth. Through miles of sheltering blooms and leaves, as your skin collects the flowers’ perfumed breath.
Swim with her, safe from harm, free of discovery, beneath the flowers, in the subterranean, chrysanthemum sea.
— C.Birde, 9/17