#30: ONCE UPON A SPRINGTIME
Death drifted through the park one spring day
And his thoughts were not of grimness nor reaping
But of strange things:
The red balloon, floating ownerless over the trees
Like a great, angry eye
The colour of each blade of grass
Pale celadon, so clean and fresh
And the scent of earth like a pungent perfume
Urgent, fertile, rich with life.
“Oh Mister, could you help me please?” she called
And Death wondered that he’d not seen her
Before that moment:
Sitting on the back of a great stone leopard
Near the fountain
Lilting like birdsong in the clear morning
Red-striped white flamenco dress as prominent
As the blood of a murder victim on clean snow.
“Please Mister Death, his wings are encased in stone,” she pleaded.
He would fly to the ends of the earth -
To the ends of the earth and beyond, if only he could break free.”
And Death marvelled at her boldness.
“Do you trust me?” he asked, and she nodded simply -
A solemn girl-child, almost a woman
With a great purple-black mane of hair
And eyes dark as black grapes
And Death remembered his youth when he looked at her.
A touch from his thin hand.
Cracks blossomed over stone wings like veins
And suddenly, pinions blue as the sky
Burst forth from their prison.
“Thank you!” exclaimed the girl. Death inclined his head
Before looking at her for a long moment.
“I don’t know how to fly,” he said gravely. “Will you teach me?”
The girl smiled, holding out her hand.
Into the sky sailed the leopard on its great blue wings
Carrying Death and the Maiden
And the red balloon watched from its unwinking eye
As they disappeared into the distance
Once upon a Springtime, long ago and far away.