Once I saw a girl, standing
by the shore of a deepwater
pond, smooth and black as
polished glass, and she seemed
sad. Her hair matched the water,
in sheen and in color, and her skin
was the pale of alabaster, and there
were freckles on her cheeks and around
her blue eyes, and her lips were red.
I walked over to her, slowly, and I doffed
my hat, because she looked so delicate and
frail, and I deemed she would appreciate
all courtesy and propriety, and I composed
myself for the speech of gentles.
I said, "Lady, forgive my intrusion, but I
saw you standing here, watching your
reflection, and you seemed sad. Are you
alright? She looked up at me, and her face
was solemn, and her eyes were sorrowful.
"Sir," she said, and her voice was steady, though
it was laced with grief. "Sir, I am grateful for your
kindness, and you seem a gentleman, and not used
to the hardness of the world, and so are innocent of
true pain and true sorrow. This is a comfort to me, a
great comfort, and so I thank you for your bearing, but
now leave me, for I am weary and full of sorrow, and
desire to be alone with my thoughts"
I was struck then, with the beauty of her speech, and
beheld that she was indeed weary of both heart and
body, for her eyes were red rimmed, and her hands
shook with the smallest of tremors as she stood, there
"Lady," I said, " Lady, be not frightened to share your
troubles with me. It is true that I am a gentleman, and
therefore unused to the harsher rigors of the living
experience, but, believe me, Lady, when I say that
none of this matters to me, nor should it to you. I know
we are still new met, but already I feel as if you were a
close friend of many years, who has been absent for
sometime, and that we are only now reunited. Share
with me your troubles, and I will listen with a kind eye
and attentive bearing, for to me, your troubles are now
mine, and your sorrows my own."
She stood, frozen, her blue eyes wide with shock, and her
bearing was as that of a startled fawn in the moment before
flight. I made no move, and I held my breath, and I held her
eyes in mine, for I feared that if my attention faltered for but
an instant, she would vanish, like a doe into the shadows of the
trees. "Sir," she said, and faltered. "Sir," she said again, "you do
not know what you ask. And why should my troubles concern
you? This world does not allow for weakness to go unpunished."
"Lady," I spoke, and my voice was gentle. "tell me your sorrows."
She shivered. "Be it so then. I will tell you." She shook her head
and stared into the dark waters of the pond, reflective like the sheen of
polished ebony, stared at her reflection, gazing up at her from the
depths, and sighed. "My troubles began a mere three days prior to
this, and if they seem to you frivolous or unworthy, pray do not laugh,
but leave forthwith, and I will know your mind.
"Lady," I said, and though my voice was gentle still, it was now deep
also and steady, as a mountain before the storm. "tell me your sorrows.
I will listen. I will not laugh. This you know. Tell me your sorrows."
She shivered, again, and her lips parted, and her eyes were more full
of pain and of sorrow than I had yet seen them, and my heart ached
in my breast. "Be it so." she whispered, and her voice was as a
splintered shard of purest crystal.
"I was looking into a mirror, and admiring myself,
and was full of joy at the fullness of my figure, and
of the sheen of my hair. So fixed was I on my reflection
that I failed to notice the approach of a beautiful woman,
with flaxen hair and pale blue eyes and with skin the soft
color of the lilies of the valley. She looked at me and asked
why I should stare so avidly at a simple mirror. I replied
that I was merely gazing into the mirror at myself.
Then the beautiful womans eyes flashed, and in them appeared
such cruelty as I had never thought to imagine or to conceive. "Such vanity." She said to me, and my spirit faltered within me. She
beckoned me to step closer. I did, cautiously, and she bent down
to my ear and whispered, harshly, "You are an ugly *****, and are
so outshone by my beauty that you are as a flickering candle compared to the glory of the Sun." With this she turned and left me, and since
then I have been here gazing at my reflection, and wondering why
God should choose to curse me with so terrible a form as mine." She was crying, the young lady, standing by the depths of the
deepwater pond, darker now, with the fading of the light. She would
not look at me, ashamed of the outpouring of her heart, and I felt
the ache within my breast grow, until grief found me, and tears sprung
unbidden to fall, unheeded, in the waters of the pond.
"Lady," I said, and my voice was heavy and laden now with sorrow for the grief of the maiden there before me, and for her crystal tears, shed in sadness. "Lady," I said, "will you tell me your name?" She shivered once more, and bowed her head as she answered, "Johanna." and a single tear escaped her closed lids to trace its way down her cheek, and fall into the blackness of the dark waters of the pond. "Johanna." she said to me, and her voice then near shattered my aching heart. "Johanna." I said. And again, "Johanna." A third time I spoke, "Johanna." I fell silent for
a moment, and saw that she was trembling, and her cheeks were wet.
"Johanna," I said again, and now my voice was loud and strong, so that
she looked up in shock,and her eyes were fearful. "Johanna, you are more beautiful than the sun in all its glory, more beautiful than the stars, more beautiful even than the infinite heavens in their celestial wonder, arching above us. You are more beautiful, Johanna, because you are you.
Johanna. You of the hair of raven hue, you of the skin like alabaster, you
of the eyes of the oceans hue, you of the ruby lips, you, your voice the voice of angels." And now my voice was soft, a whisper to match her own, as I spoke, close to her ear. "Let none wound you, let none dissuade you, let none harm you in word or deed, Johanna, for you are more beautiful than all of Gods creation, because you are you." She looked at me, and her eyes were full once more with crystal tears.
She sobbed, once, and fell into my arms, and wept. And I held her, there beside the deep waters of the pond, and under the vastness of
the velvet blackness of the night, and the moon, and the turnings of
the most moving poem I have written in recent memory.
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