4. Mar, 2017

At a crossroads

At a crossroads where three streets intersect
a cat, a dwarf, a wanderer once met.
The moon was high in the amber sky
the wanderer kept asking himself why
his load must be so heavy, his path so long
after a day's labour in the village without song:
he had worked to give people a smile
with his pranks and jokes. All he got was a file
with neat lines of numbers and a note for his troubles.

As he reasoned so, a royal cat with a crown and whiskers
made of stars approached with a purr.
The wanderer unloaded his back and took a bread crust from his pack.
The cat's eyes twinkled, the wanderer gave him some crumbs.
The cat meowed, the wanderer scratched his back.
They kept each other company for a good stretch.

And when the sky was alight with the stars,
they saw a dwarf approaching from afar.
He had a long chin, a hat made of leaves
a fish in his left hand, long pointed boots,
a fishing rod.
He smiled to himself and looked around
as if afraid of being caught.

When he saw the royal cat bedecked with jewels
he offered his golden fish in exchange for his crown.
The cat jumped out and stole his fish, then ran away
in the violet mountains of yonder-land.
The dwarf sat next to the wanderer and cursed
the cat and his cross star. He said he was hungry
for a start.

The wanderer gave him bread crumbs too.
They took shelter next to a bush.
They shared more than words can say
for both were lonely and believed in the fey.
The night grew old and died
dawn broke without a sign
and soon a bargain was struck
between the wanderer and the dwarf:

the dwarf would fish with his rod
the wanderer would carry around
their loads, for he was a tall, lean man
and had long, long legs.
Long did they walk and travelled far
till they stumbled upon fairy-land.

The fairies were so glad with such odd
fellows that they kept them forever safe
from the crazy world where people
grow old and greedy, and swindlers
catch their preys with their smiles.
The wanderer and the dwarf were past those guiles;
they danced and made merry, sometimes
cried, but never did they come again:
they left me here to tell their tale.

And now I wonder, alone in my room,
who had it best, those two outcasts,
or all the men living in silent
despair, honouring the law
the bank the church

Frances Fay