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Poem: The Mother

A horned owl hooted in derision across/the dark, putrid air (which was strange/because an ochre sun still glowered/on the horizon),/But no crickets chirped.
poem moon
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Last night the Moon,
Slid down the boughs of
the quince tree outside my window,
And climbed in.
With one leg on the sill, he said,
“May I have the pleasure of
an evening with you, my Lady?”
His brilliant white teeth flashed a
Dazzling smile at me; his tuxedo was impeccable.

“I’d love that!” said I, dazed. “Where are you taking me?
Someplace nice, I suppose?”

“I’ll take you to a field of tulips in the sky!
Our ride waits below,” he whispered, his
Midnight eyes flecked with pinpoints
Of light. Brushing past him to the
window, I felt an icy gust of wind
From the deepest crater on his chest.
“Close your eyes.

And there I was! roller coasting across the skies,
Higher, way higher above the Milky Way, straddled on
A strawberry dragon breathing
blue violet flames (that tasted surprisingly,
like a rainbow roasted at the speed of light),
With the Moon behind me.
My swooning mind
held on for dear life, and horrible
Sickness rose in a swell of bitter
Bile, up to my throat.

“Open your eyes,” his voice chilled my spine.
Pulling open my tightly screwed up eyelids a crack,
I peered down,
And almost fell off the dragon’s back.
It was a field of tulips in the sky all right.
Acres and acres of it in all directions,
Magically suspended in some sort of a bubble of
Gravitational anomaly.
The sky was a shade of lurid crimson-purple
and sulfurous yellow that reminded
me of a festering wound.
“Look.” It was a command.
“What is this place? Am I dead? and is this Hell?
I see nothing but
Row after row after row of plants right up to the horizon,
but…” I trailed off.
“Look again. This, is my other face,
The one you never see,” said the Moon.
I looked again. And my blood froze.
Row upon row upon row of plants stretched
right up to the horizon,
as far as the eye could see.
The stems were human bones, the leaves were
bayonets and combat knives,
And the flowers (horror of horrors!) –
Severed human heads, the blood on them dried so dark,
they were almost black!
The ugliest ever skeleton of a tree
stood in the midst, alone,
Hunched over, its twisted branches raised in
Agonised protest to
A devil (or a god?) unknown.
Hanging from those withered talons,
like drooling tongues and oozing green eyeballs,
Were leaves of gold and emerald fruits.

Beneath the tree sat a lady of wondrous beauty.
Her head was bowed,
And her face, though averted,
Sent out lambent waves of love and pity that
Formed a lustrous circle gently swirling around her.
Her simple robe hung from her frail shoulders
That drooped in inordinate sorrow.
“Look at her face,” he whispered,
His voice like sharpened steel, and as if she’d heard him,
She slowly turned her head towards us.
Oh dreadful sight! It burned itself forever into my soul!
The bottomless pits in her face, where her eyes should be,
were the stuff of nightmares!
They were blacker and more bitter
than Rachel’s grief that was heard,
Weeping loud and clear, in Ramah.
From those black depths, fuelled by her  anguish, crystal tears welled up,
And running down her breast in two streams,
They turned into rivers of blood
as soon as they touched the ground.
From there on, they flowed through the endless field into the Sea of The Unknown.
In each hand she held a rose, whiter
than the driven snow, and sweeter than
The innocence of first love.
“Behold the Mother,” the voice behind me whispered,
“She who braved an ocean of excruciating pain,
In hot pursuit of Death, who stole her newborn son.
Her love led her here before him,
And, amazed beyond measure, Death granted her wish.
‘You can have your son’s life back,’ said he,
‘If you can pick him out from these two identical roses.
But beware, choose wisely!
For one of these is destined to be a hateful monster,
Worse than those trapped in the
frozen lake of Cocytus;
One who, cursed by mothers everywhere, will unleash
a hell on earth, such as this.
The other will be an angel, loved and honoured the world over;
His will be a noble soul; pure of heart, he will leave the world  a better place
Than he finds it.
The choice is yours alone; for no one knows which is which.
Not even I.'”
Here, the Moon paused for breath.
“And so, she will sit here till the end of time,
weeping tears of blood
From sightless eyes, while other sons than
her own make life on earth an eternal misery!”
And with that, and a twisted smile, the Moon went down.

A horned owl hooted in derision across
the dark, putrid air (which was strange
because an ochre sun still glowered
on the horizon),
But no crickets chirped.

Prateeti is an English Lierature major from Presidency University Kolkata who took up the technology challenge without an Engineering degree in 1993 and embarked on a full-fledged technical career, becoming a RDBMS expert. She worked as the CoE Manager for Sybase products, platforms and technologies at SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore. She is a great admirer of Augusta Ada King and Marie Curie.

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