The Dark Ages: A Dreamer's Tale
Diana Henderson

She spent her days in a castle keep
Cold and wan and fast asleep.
The kingdom wondered if she dreamed
Or slept in silence as it seemed.
None knew what fancies lived inside
The mind of this slumbering child bride
Who stumbled into this deep abyss
Upon the moment of her first kiss.

The die was cast before her birth
Ere her stardust soul reached Earth
Her fate to be lost in a world of dreams,
Arachne weaving silken seams,
Tapestries spun from fancie's thread,
Ethereal pillows for her bed.
Retreating to this inner world
As girlhood passed and visions whirled.

Her father, an aged and noble lord,
Understood not what strange discord
Might lie within his daughter's soul
In a realm beyond mortal control.
Her mother wept both day and night
For a child who dwelt among twilight
Somewhere 'twixt this world and the next,
This daughter had them sorely vexed.

No princely kiss to waken her,
Such darkening lips could never stir
This spirit once plunged into mist,
Adrift in time since that first tryst.
No lover e'er to beckon her home
From this firmament where she roamed
Cold and still and stark as stone
Forever distant and alone.

One day as she lay sleeping still
Her skin so soft but ever chill,
They saw her lips turn to a smile,
A grin to charm or to beguile
The grayest lord or darkest knave,
A smile that could a soul enslave.
Hearts filled with hope long forsaken
That soon their child might awaken.

But hours passed, then days and weeks
And still the pallor of her cheeks
Ne'er brightened to once rosy hues
Nor in her limbs was life infused.
The smile would pass across her face
Then swiftly leave without a trace.
But worlds burned brightly in that smile
And she was their daughter for a while.

In secret climes she met the sun,
The Phoebus whom her dreams had spun,
And in his golden light she basked,
Her soul to him at last unmasked.
She offered smiles made of moonbeam
And priceless castles built of dream.
They frolicked on the sandy shore
And wandered amid the isles of yore.

And their great love was almost real
Requiring but a kiss to seal
The covenant that would lead them home
But 'twas a kiss her fate had sewn,
So to her fears e'er long she clutched
And wished for not another touch
To exile her from this fair land,
To wash away this golden strand.

He walked beside her silently
Weeping sunlit tears for what might be
If once her lips might meet his own
So they could make their journey home.
He pressed pale fingers 'gainst his cheek
That she might feel the sundrenched streak
Of tears that glistened on his face
And decide at last to leave this place.

Amid a flash of golden light,
She plunged back to her body white.
Cracked lips pursed as if in a kiss
A butterfly from a chrysalis.
Trying to speak she made no sound
But family gathered close around
And rejoiced that Fate had spared their child
Returning her from the regions wild.

Alone and sad in her castle keep
No longer in her world of sleep,
In this land where the sun burned dim,
This maiden thought of none but him—
Her truest love in a world now dust,
Whose memory soon would turn to rust
In this realm of rain and sorrow
Where she must spend every morrow.

Then a stranger to the castle came
With eyes and heart of purest flame
In search of one who knew him well,
Who freed him from Somnia's spell.
She touched his soul with trembling hands
And led him from the shadow lands.
This moonlight maiden now he sought
Be she only smoke or merely thought.

And in that moment their eyes did meet,
Their hearts as one once more did beat,
Their love no longer the stuff of dreams
But of life's swirling violent streams.
Their kiss not fatal nor somnulent,
Passion not lofty but genuine.
Meeting at last on this Earthly plane,
Two lost souls discovered love again.

Their daughter finally free of Night,
No more to be Dream's acolyte,
The lord and lady no longer mourned
For a child all her life forlorn
Of the truer joys of one awake
To possibility and heartache,
To sadness, longing and pleasures real
That slumbering dreamers ne'er do feel.

© 1994 Lillian D. Henderson

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