If my heart has hardened, there is no one else to blame.
I have never been a woman unaccustomed to the shame
and bitter rebuke of who loved me, every bitter word a hound
that tore flesh from my bone and did not pause to heed the sound
of other hunters heeling, watch and wait;
do not give joy to bloodshed, do not mourn the deeds of fate.
Some stood by, bore witness, could not stand without frail shake;
others turned their eyes, slept sweetly,
could not curse and could not sing
of other, kinder keenings; other noble, softer things.
Give no days to slander, nor hours weeping wait;
and still, and still, and still, and still,
the dogs tore veins, broke faith.
There was no single, final blow,
no moment when the boar gave heave;
the elk stood still and blank-eyed,
the sparrow lose its wings.
I did not watch the world turn, no light before my eyes;
there was no rhyme or reason to the sorrow deep, so wide.
I did not feel it coming, could not understand the break;
soft bark did grow, close-cleaving,
my hands did lose their weight;
sweet furls of leaves young emerald,
acorns neat and new.
I was not old or young again,
nor bloody, no, nor used.
Listen deep my darling, for this is what is true:
hard oak is in my blood, dear one,
and it is so for you.
© 2018 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.