The Dowager Queen

1 Aug

dowager queen

She was the dowager queen, they said,
never married at all but once.
But I have seen the wrinkles in her eyes
and know they are faded
far beyond the skin of time.

Boys will be fair, she said one day
while I sat at her knee,
and men may be kind,
but life is cruel
and in the end a heart can break
more than once.

I looked up at her,
the questions in my eyes,
and for once
there was no disguise
for the pain behind the laugh lines
and the crow’s feet
and the bags
that so often escape the notice
of those who do not look for life’s weight.

 
She smiled,
the only cruel mockery
time had left her
of a once whole heart,
shook her head,
and sighed.

 
In the end they will disappoint you, my dear,
the lovers, the suitors, the husbands, the friends.
They will murmur sweet words
while they lay in your bed
but the days always come
when the dream will end,
and you will be left
with the scent on your pillow
and nothing but the excuse of their lips.
And even should the sweetest stay,
in the end this world will have its way
and the lips will turn cold
even if the heart does not –
and time will do a man’s job for him
should he refuse.
If he does not leave,
then he will be taken.

 
I raised my face to protest
but there was nothing to say,
not when the dowager looked that way.
Not with the memories tearing through her eyes
and ripping across her face,
her old, veined hands trembling,
held by a thousand ghosts.

 
They say the dowager was only married but once.
But I,
I say that she has been married forever –
or not at all.

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