Geoffrey Koury

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The Arrival of Griselda

THE NIGHT was fine and fair, the comely young
Griselda fairer still, who charmed all dark
Despair within my heart to ashes. Drink,
It served to douse the flame, the flame of thought
That slow ingested ache there piled black,
However slowly. Still, ’twas better pain
Consumed had been, instead of left to rot
And canker, cold and wet; for only when
The mind may burn constrained no more, to blaze
Amain with lofty tinder fed and shun
The danker fuels regret and hate supplied,
Ere clung to, happy, filled with peace, and free
The vessel shall aspire to exist.

Perhaps such talk you ween amiss, “A whore
Griselda be, deluded Fabler!” Doubtless truth
You speak, my friends – indeed. Restrict us not
The smitten heart, however, (often fresh
Within approval’s cage encumbering tossed)
To chosen few – for all deserve to scale
Love’s tragic heights, to scale the tongue of flame
Unfolding ever dimmer, flinging up
Our cries and passion’s cinders. Like was flung
My mood’s ascent, and burning, knew descent
Was nigh, however high the flame it pushed,
Suspending love emblazoned.

Such effect
Inspired breathes no less Griselda’s mouth,
Griselda’s eyes and hair of auburn shade,
Griselda’s supple limbs that dimple soft
And mingle life with soft and fragrant dreams
Wherever pass she may – that years ago
Did sleeping strew a mountain path withal,
Enchanting blooms the dogbane spread, of bright
And starry bluets lowly sprung, of mullein white
And wan, and dappling boughs their leafy loads
To sway, as bending high they groaned to arch
A moss enwreathèd gate, wherethrough upon
The passage ‘neath slow trod a charmèd goat,
Proceeding midst the blossoms’ summoned songs,
Arrayed in flowered garlands fair about
Her shaggy neck and spiraled, fluted horns –
Therewith were chiming bells of silver strung,
And on her back Griselda infant bore
In raiment fine enwrapped, embroidered all
In gold. The babe, she slumbered gently held
In scarlet folds, and deep within a spell,
So nary did she wake as wound her hooved
Purveyor through their steep and starlit course.

A charcoal blanket cov’ring blinding light,
Across the heavens spread and torn throughout,
The sky depicted patterns bright where rent –
Refulgence ragged beamed permitted o’er
The magic pair, traversing thus illumed
Athwart a meadow breeze, attending cool
Its breath of dew-bent grass and leaves upon
The weary brow of steadfast, faithful beast.
The gently shaken bells that chimed above
Her steady clopping, nary falt’ring, rang
Preceding down the silent, furrowed road
To stay the crickets’ chirp, who silent sat
Expectant, fearing not the owl perched
Above, among the ancient apple tree’s
Unburdened, blighted branches. Aught by fruit
Had weighted been but long ago, had weighed
The wind as though a blossomed scale; its red,
Recoiling bounty teasing children oft,
As held aloft, mid green and springy spray
The rosy globes did dance and gleam, released
When nature deemed it just they fall. Yet now
A tangled waste it stood, appendaged bleak
And creaking spread its crooked shadows o’er
The huddled meadow mice, who stifling squeaks
Were tucked among the ants and crickets. Frogs
With pulsing throats, and gnarled, squatting toads
Forewent their urge, and jostled cricket, mouse
And ant alike, to join the eager, mute
Assembly all along the roadside thronged.
Griselda slumb’ring passed, and yawning curled
A languid fist against her cheek – and lo,
Asudden whisp’ring from the apple tree
Did shoot a tendril green and winding bright
About a branch’s jagged end, to show
A leaf unfurled and curved to cup the moon
Within its verdure, trembling light of stars
Upon its skin as burst forth petals white
Beside to herald life renewed. And soon
A thousand whispers more were heard, as writhed
The tree in pangs; its frame it shook and bent,
Enveloped new in bark transformed; and shocked
With all its tumult, hooting in dismay,
The fierce, confounded owl into flight;
He hov’ring glared with yellow eyes and beat
His quiet feathers midst the perfumed cloud
That formed of velvet, floating blossoms shed.
Enlivened now, the mice they scurried ’round
And squeaked, the toads and frogs triumphant leapt,
And crickets chirped in chorus to the croaks;
The ants their joy bespoke by waving flags
Of leaves descended, leading all, bedecked
With dying light of stars and coming dawn.
Enchanted thus, proceeded they along
The meadow road, Griselda sleeping still
Upon her goat.

As peach’s flesh, asleep
And tautly stretched, unripened, dreams its sweet
Awakened, luscious self, and yellow spreads
A blush of pink, so by gradations blushed
The sky that morn, as Phoebus set his foot
Upon the piled, eastern clouds, and spied
Outside a brothel door Griselda laid
In all her raiment fine, her loyal goat beside
Her bleating, thrall to spell no longer.

© 2014  Geoffrey Koury

Geoff Koury facilitates a monthly poetry group for the Arlington County Public Library.

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