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  • Erin Brown

POETRY | The Five Thousand


We are none. Fled and utterly gone are we. Our ashen bones and flesh discarded lie ‘neath the ignorant earth, Feeding the emerald crown of yonder Willow Tree: Say the Five Thousand. Tick, tock, tick, tock: So rush the hours upon our endless clock, Our former glories are dazzling instants dying starry deaths. Tick, tock. Say the Five Thousand. In vain, men toil: withering upon the earth with ignorant eyes, easily scorched by accusatory light, yet restless in the cold repose of the deathly night. Such is the cruel, stumbling nature of being alive, Say the Five Thousand. Yet we, doubly darkened by night and grief shall founder no more on the brightness of the Living Man’s Reef. We are but shadows with broken backs that grieve and creak no more Beneath the gritted whip of living, Cry, eternally relieved, the Five Thousand. And yet. Though all together, we still are none. Naught but those who are fled and gone. Each man broken, silent and brittle in spirit. A glittering vessel with no nectar of life to fill it. Such is our bitter tale of woe, Weep the Five Thousand. For though one terror is ended and free men are we, Still our ashen bones and flesh discarded lie: Stark tombstones for bright desires and dreams gone dry. Yet like a phoenix birdsong rising, its ashes shed, Our bleached frames shall never cease to cry warning. For so say we, cry the Five Thousand, in the grey light of morning: Beware, men upon the earth. How you neglect all that which you should heed: For how fragile is your wasting hold on the life another would die to lead; Mortal ignorance of life’s worth is deadliest of all to the living. Are you blind as to think the cold earth will be so forgiving as to let thee abandon so easily thy human creed? Doubt not us, this legion fuelled by the fire of life unlived, for ever curling skywards are the embers of each word we have left unsaid: For truly if ‘neath your boots lie such as us - our dark empire of vain but eager breaths - then mourn and let your wise man set forth, wary head bowed above his unsure tread, with all thy deepest fears – like our hopes – freed. May the living sleep light with such lingering dread of a mightiness utterly dead, and yet, only so, until reawakened in a mere Willow Tree’s seed. Such is our honour, our pledge, our oath, Til life doth pass the living by, and they too lay with bones gone dry. Dormant and restless 'neath the leafy emerald sky and earth, Say the Five Thousand.

© Erin Brown 2014

IMAGE CREDIT: Simon Goinard ©

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