Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XXII ill title Constant Presence

While deep in the fluids that coursed through his core,
I’d glimpsed in the Dragon a chance to explore
The innermost passions of peasants and kings,
And great destinations with magical things.
Yet tho’ in immersion I’d seen frigid shapes,
And airless, cold waters had hindered escapes,
From whence I emerged, I could still find a cause
To marvel at all of the Dragon’s new laws.
I’d bathed in a mix of both malice and mirth,
My spirit was stretched to the Heavens from Earth.
And mystical Daask that the winds had made free,
Had centred his secrets directly on me.

But looking about me made mem’ry return,
And of wounded warriors my senses did learn.
I stretched what I could of my strength and supplies,
To shed me a moment my worldly disguise,
And don ‘stead of armour a spirited gown,
Inviting Saint John’s most approving looks down.
A good Hospitaller I quickly became,
While nursing their flesh (and still cursing the same).
For here were but mortals who’d foolishly thought
That battles with Daask were most easily fought.

There ne’er was a leader commanding that day,
Nor people directing or pointing the way.
We simply returned to the sinking-sun west,
All searching for fam’lies and food and for rest.
In patches of hobbling and wretched weak frames,
Defeated and broken in bodies and aims,
We slowly o’er country crossed long-faced and cold.
I watched as around me, companions, once bold,
Lost hold of their lives as they fled from the cave,
To carrion they’d rot and the crows would ‘come brave.

The whole time I walked, I was watchful and dared
To hope I’d discover Sir Robert was spared.
But asking all others what people they knew,
I probed for their knowledge of who had lived through:
“Know you of Sir Robert?” I asked without fail.
But none knew survivors from Meadowsford Dale.
In time I abandoned those hopes in my head,
And sank to assumptions that Robert was dead.

The marching continued, the walking wore on.
The drudgery heavily shadowed each dawn,
To blanket its sunlight as curtains when drawn,
Ensuring bright thinking was banished and gone.
For minds that think deeply on subjects of note,
Do find that ideas can actively float
‘Pon rivers ne’er-ending of questioning needs:
Solutions emerge where the thought-water leads.
But what would then happen if minds were exposed
By chance to occasion where currents were closed,
As if some disaster took plaster and poured
Great handfuls into the free-flowing fjord?
Then thoughts would be thickened and hardened and stopped,
And laggards for thinkers would quickly be swapped.
‘Twas this that occurred by the eighth day we marched.
With horrid retreating our brains had ‘come parched.
So nothing of substance could flow through my head,
Except the slow rhythm of trodding, half-dead.

But then something happened that crumbled the clay:
I glanced for an instant up yonder away,
And spied me a willow that slumbered alone,
Surrounded by shrubs and by grasses wind-blown.
The image of that gentle fellow sank down,
Deep into the silt that had settled around
The bed of my brain that was hardened and still.
It took a small time for the picture to fill
The earth that was hardened and dense in my head.
But soon I could sense that the great watershed
Was put in reverse by that willow I’d seen,
And thoughts started flowing where dryness had been.
The water did trickle to mem’ries far-gone,
In search of connections the image would spawn.
Then sud’ly I knew of the picture’s import:
That willow I’d used for a landmark of sort
At times when I flew from my duties and chores
To seek out my meadow of colourful floors.

My eyes on the wretches saw dullness and death,
But mem’ries flowed stronger with each renewed breath,
And where, once before, all were deserts and dry,
My own head soon blossomed as waters ran by.
The solid crustaceans, the cracked earthen ground,
Was yielding to lifeblood that swirled full around.
No longer could I call myself one with all,
For now I’d escaped from the sickening pall.
I knew that to keep and continue this road
Would shortly have water-thoughts narrowed and slowed,
‘Til soon I would be as I’d been once before:
To march without thinking my thoughts anymore.

So now central reason inspired my bones
To lighten the pace and abandon the moans.
I veered me away from the struggling, sick men,
And started my way to my meadow again.
My Northward bound route o’er the landscape’s lush trim,
Was shown by the point of that willow’s low limb.
I passed as the tree felt a soft song of breeze,
And swayed me a welcome at which I did please.
So eager I thanked it, reached out for its leaves,
And pulled at the freshness that springtime relieves.
The strands, they were waxy and cool in my hand,
Their greenery lifted me higher than planned,
And hap’ly I smiled my goal new designed,
Rejoiced my escape from the sickness behind.

Yet through my renewal, reality frowned,
And soon in my thoughts of Sir Robert I drowned.
Had Daask made dispatch of my master with ease?
Had Robert been injured to crippling degrees?
Was he among hundreds who trod slowly by,
Approaching not home, but his hour to die?
So now fully opposite headscapes emerged,
And flooding my mind it was guilt that now surged.
How could I have stationed myself on that hill,
To watch for the Dragon’s most terrible kill?
Why hadn’t I fought by Sir Robert’s proud side,
So I then with him could have honour’bly died?
And where was my patience, my courage, and heart,
To search for his someone ere making this start?
Uncertainty nagged at my feelings and facts.
It tempted returns to the terrible tracts
Where sickness and sadness marched weakly away,
And Death reaped his harvest of seasons each day.
But stronger were calls from my meadow, my field,
And this was a quest from which I could not yield.

I walked quickly onward, past greens of all type,
Some ferns and some bushes with berries soon ripe.
A hare I encountered went bounding away,
Then stopped and looked back as if wanting to say,
“Now where have you been? ‘Tis some time you were here!”

I laughed at the rascal, “You’ve nothing to fear!”
A grouse landed loudly a pace from my path,
To warn I was too close her nest and her wrath.
But I was not chasing and she was not prey,
My thoughts were on other some subjects that day.
And as I trod on o’er the grasses, through trees,
Past rocks that were thrust from the ground as decrees,
I pondered that bird, and my offered excuse,
And why I had tailored a delicate truce.
A snake darted by, disappeared in the weeds,
And quick my reactions performed startled deeds.
Then images formed and connections were made,
A bird but no chase, and a snake in the glade,
And sud’ly I sensed a great darkness was near,
Conceptions of Daask over-flowed me with fear.

Not long after that I saw trees working close,
Their branches were mingling in wooded engross.
They sensed my arrival, acknowledged my walks,
And strained as I pushed through their thickening stalks.
They knew, as did I, that this wall they had grown,
Was made to enclose the good meadow I’d known,
And reaching this Eden took patience and care,
Lest thorn-covered branches reached out to ensnare.

Then as I emerged from the living made bound,
My eyes could not grasp then the vision they found:
The green meadow spires of tall grasses and blooms,
Had turned into fires of dark ashes and fumes.
And all that was wondrous and vibrant with light
Was charred now and smoking and stung at my sight.
The shock that encased me gripped tightly my skin,
And told me ‘twas time for despair to begin.
Tho’ dismal this vision which tormented me,
‘Twas only the first I was destined to see.

The air quivered quickly o’er heat-ridden ash,
And through smoking vapours then something did flash.
I looked to where movement had captured my eye,
And Hell’s own emotions gave voice to my cry.
‘Twas Daask walking proudly amidst the hot flame,
Admiring my field upon which he lay claim.
I yelled to his towering figure of scales,
“Explain why your presence most always assails
Such terrible targets that only are mine!
And where comes the license my life to malign?”

The Dragon then turned to direct me his eyes,
And strong were impressions their liquid was wise.
He quickly approached me through smoldering ash,
His footsteps were thunder, his tail followed brash.
In moments he stood as a mountain o’er me.
His limbs, they crunched down as he lowered to be
Most level as possible with my short stand.
His nostrils were cavernous hollows twin-spanned,
And over their entrance, two horns threatened out,
His beard swept the ashes that cooled all about.

“This haven you’ve hidden from all of the world,”
He started, as ‘round me his breath hotly swirled,
“Was proud in conception, and selfishly kept,
Your thinking was such in your absence it slept.
But this of itself is ne’er evil or wrong:
Indulgence of spirit has rendered you strong.
Yet built from advantage, starvation does speak,
Its instant effect makes imaginings weak.
These ashes are hungry, but laden are they,
With flowers for farming some far distant day.”

“You’re speaking in riddles,” I angry accused.

“So solve them,” said Daask, sounding smugly amused.
His wings then pushed out, were raised high o’er the heat,
And mighty-blown windstorms their motion did beat.
The Dragon rose fast through the smoke-thickened sky,
And looked doubly marred from the tears I did cry.