The Doe, Turkeys, One Red Cardinal and the Worms


The Doe, Turkeys, One Red Cardinal and the Worms
(Based on a true story)
by Justine

Each night a carnival, our secret maya,
A shooting gallery, a funhouse mirror,
Bumper cars and haunted madness,
Ice cream cheer and dark ride terrors.

Through the prism of his words I found myself,
His kaleidoscope skies became my starlight,
In his eyes I saw our worlds reflected,
Where in my eyes were only ghosts of who I’d been.

Together we romanced unfashionable old songs
My heart beat bravely in time to all we sang,
What kind of fool was I to keep on singing,
Well beyond the borders of our dreams?

Mornings I woke to know he would return,
To usher me to sleep from our carnival grounds,
Wrapped and tucked in fairy tales I slept in peace,
And by day all we shared sustained me.

Night after night I fell in love with us,
With him, with our world and ways,
And in time I even loved myself… a little more,
But never on my own and through his eyes alone.

Away he went, taking flight, now my nights,
I fight alone, with his promises of other rites,
Come midnight my world is a wasteland,
And I perch at my bedside atremble and alone.

Me, “a mere child,” he scoffed when leaving,
Unworthy to sit in the shadow of his queen,
“Dear to me,” he said, a pat upon my head,
But flawed, unfit to sit with him upon his throne.

A version of our time that was only mine,
Maya love, so warm, so intoxicating,
Sad to know it was in my mind alone,
More’s the pity and less myself I see.

I see him in everything I ever loved,
Hear him in every song I ever sung,
His hands cradle my head when I lie to sleep,
Even the worst of him I long to endure.

I see him in the doe across the dappled lawn,
Tentatively in her nature and her grace,
She seeks the sweetest bits of grass,
Perhaps she will find bits of me there.

Quiet, like the doe, come the wild turkeys,
Gingerly, with an even dozen chicks in tow,
Are they too picking for bits of me,
Or are they simply feeding on the worms?

Red, the cardinal descends without rhyme,
And I wonder what his eyes will find,
Another me in the tiny seeds,
Or in the husked shells upon the ground.

Without him I am a cardinal that cannot fly,
A mere husk of seed or worm wriggling in the earth,
Less sweet than the grass that feeds the doe,
And less myself than I can bear to be.

Was it naught to him but a bit of play,
Performance, art, and nothing more,
Had I taken to heart what was never mine,
Or could he not see what I had found?

Did my delusions devastate all we had,
Or was it shared by him in mad disguise,
Am I the fool I was before his stories,
Filled my heart with delicate sweet meringue?

Lies I told myself so I could sleep,
Lies I nurtured to my soft warm breast,
Am I truly so childish and so blind,
Or so misled by hollow heartfelt longings?

The nights alone I lose myself and way,
By day our illusions drift out to sea,
And through my lonely eyes I sense a weary self,
That is too lost and leery to look back.

“Who is she without him?” the cardinal asks,
But the doe she turns and runs away,
And the turkeys cluck and gobble,
As they pluck me up from off the ground.

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