Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


I ill title Night Descends

Return with me now to my earliest days,
Where mem’ries are patches of clar’ty and haze,
And freshness of stature caused much to distort,
For people seemed towers to youngsters so short.
The case was no different for me in my youth:
I gazed up at father who sheltered my truth.
My handhold was lost in his right lordly grip,
We strode side by side down that old highway trip.
The roadway was rough, for there snaked wooden veins,
The roots of the trees which made towering gains
O’er travellers who struggled its difficult course
The woods would yield town once we’d cut our way forth.

We’d spent us a day, just a father and son,
Along the twin banks where the river did run,
Impatiently hoping to snag us a meal,
And try to outwit what the waves would conceal.
But flimsy was fortune and when we were done,
Our high expectations had hooked only one.

“A shameful return,” muttered father to me,
“And yet I am empty of eyes to make see
How Fate can relieve us our bitter demise.
This life deserves more than my effort now buys!”

I nodded, afraid to make sound or move tongue:
I knew when in anger his words overhung.
‘Twas best, I resolved, to stay silent and small,
And not to provoke greater fury to fall.
So forward we walked in the darkening trees,
The daylight was fading and gone was the breeze.
The shadows grew thicker, upon us they closed,
Our footsteps seemed louder as listening rose.

A cabin we’d passed many footsteps ago
Would offer the last of the warmth we would know.
The creatures of darkness awoke all around,
And Nature upon us now angrily frowned.
And soon, as was common back then as today,
The trees, which had once held a spirit so gay,
Transformed to a thicket of villainous hives
Where criminals gather and lawlessness thrives.
‘Twas then from the dim and uncaring dark woods,
There ambushed upon us five treacherous hoods.
They had us surrounded in moments with ease,
I reckon ‘twas Hermes they worshipped to please.

I waited for father to proudly react,
And that’s when his stature within me was cracked:
He dropped to his knees on the cold, earthen floor,
And called to the thieves, “Dearest men, I implore!
I’ve nothing to give you. My pockets are bare.
These clothes are the rags of a peasant I wear.
Have mercy upon my most feeble, sad heart.
I beg you, retire, and quickly depart.”

The thieves took to laughing, and danced ‘round us two.
Said one, “I have ne’er known a coward as you!
Stand up for your lad, then, and show him your might,
And earn yourself freedom from us with a fight!”

My father came desperate, and shivered in fear.
A pale, hopeless hue in his voice did appear,
“I can’t fight you here, for I’m one and you’re five.”

It struck me that here he was barely alive.
The hero within him had faltered and tripped,
His cape of protection was ruthlessly ripped.
And all of my wonder, and all of my pride,
And all of the reverence I’d carried inside,
Did lessen its hold on my questioning soul,
That now was confronted with father’s new role.
I realized that I was the one who should act:
My master’s great city was suddenly sacked.
So then I reached out with the fish in my hand,
“Here’s all we can offer you now where we stand.”

And one of them snatched it with hardly a pause,
“The boy’s in the spirit! He knows him our laws!”
The other four laughed and all darted away,
Up-swallowed by darkness, awaiting new prey.

My father arose then without any speech,
And started his walking, determined to reach
The town which from birth I had called as my home,
Whose shelter within which I freely made roam.
I watched as my master stepped swiftly and hard,
And knew from his gait that his anger was jarred.
I sensed from his body a festering rage,
So knew to keep quiet and not to engage.

Instead did I ponder our walk and return,
Our trip to the town of which you shall now learn:
This moderate village, which bounded my sight,
Was set in the south of our kingdom of might,
Surrendered its tax to the Canton of Sterne,
That then gave a portion to Leighton in turn.
‘Twas there from the north that the King rightly ruled,
O’er-seeing affairs more politic’ly schooled,
And distant his presence, in leagues and in minds,
From peasants as us, and our destitute kind.
The Canton of Leeds, which the palace court graced,
On opposite sides of the kingdom was placed,
So little was seen of King Andrew’s high fame,
And all that we heard were decrees in His Name.
Thus Canterbuild quietly kept to its own;
A pleasant, old village that slowly had grown,
Until it had raised enough labour and gold,
To fin’ly erect its cathedral more bold.

To Canterbuild quickly we made our way home.
The woods had grown black under nightening dome.
As onward we strode, the deep forest was thinned,
The sky opened up and the starpoints were pinned.
And soon came the cross-roads - most feared and despised,
‘Twas there the ghosts haunted the roadways comprised.
For standing in silence, alone but content,
The bony oak branches unnat’rally bent
Made service, with scarcely a protest dispute,
As gallows where crim’nals ‘came silenced and mute.
Two ropes had been slung from a limb twenty feet.
From each a corpse hung with a message complete.
And as we made trespass ‘cross otherworld ground,
I turned my head up to where Death had been found,
And listened for spirits to slowly make speak,
But all I could hear was their rhythmic, dull creak.
Four hearts at the cross-roads and two of them raced:
The other twin cold ones we left in a haste.

‘Pon finding ourselves new returned to the town,
Dim firelit windows did welcome us down
Most friendly familiar dirt roadways and lanes.
The wagon-wood carts had been fastened with chains,
The taverns were full with their boist’rous-brewed ale,
And laughter responded to somebody’s wail.
A piper played proudly his wooden-carved flute,
Was joined by some singers who sung to a lute.
And then, high above the low clatter and noise,
A voice of such singular, musical joys,
Alerted the night to its heavenly sound,
And I in its lyrics was instantly drowned:

Once ago an ancient art
Did oversee this world,
Scraping gentle colour from
The flower petals curled.

Mixing in with wonder
Water-drops of morning maid,
Spreading o’er the dark terrain
A fresher story laid.

But when eyes to colour saw
A pallid pool of greys,
There upon my windy hills
Did fall the empty days.

Seasons seed through winter
And ‘tis then will artist hands,
Craft a living Daaskmere
To emerge upon my lands.

I marveled the music that reached me so pure,
Forgetting such beauty could hardly endure,
And as I rejoiced in the mirthful, warm eve,
My father reached out and made grab at my sleeve.
He then pulled me through the small timber door frame,
That served as the entranceway carved in our name.

Our house was a space of two adequate rooms,
The largest was common with candle illumes.
A table, and chairs where our meals we would eat,
And stone-blackened hearth to give firelight heat.
A single short doorway led back to the beds,
The place where we gratefully rested our heads.
From here emerged mother ‘pon hearing the door,
Her footfalls trod softly the wooden-planked floor,
And gently she ventured my father to ask,
“Dids’t meet with success today’s food-finding task?”

“But did we?” snapped father, choleric his voice,
“‘Tis not like we profit from much of a choice!
Just one was my catch at the stream this sad day,
And taken it was by the thieves in our way.
But thinking, perhaps, I should differently say,
This thankless, dull boy merely gave it away!”

“Those thieves can’t be toyed with,” came mother’s defense,
“Perhaps William’s gift was not dullness, but sense.”

“‘Twas not his to give!” shouted father more hoarse,
“If he wants to eat let him catch his own course!”
So thus was I sent to my sleep without food,
And father remained in the common to brood.