What does it mean, to be a queen?
A lady of the courtly scene,
With bearing wise and features keen,
Like no mere fancy of the screen,
A queen who is, in fact, a queen?
I met a figure in a dream.
An air of dance about her gleamed.
Our eyes then met, and then it seemed
She met me with a stricken scream.
Said I, "Why shriek you, noble dame?"
Said she, "Foul torture is your aim!"
Said I, "No ma'am, that's not my game,
But pray, do tell me all the same,
What torment sears you with its flame?"
"Are you not the same cruel lad?
Who pulled the rope and offed my head?"
"Not me. Why? Do I look the sort
Who'd off proud ladies' heads for sport?"
"The face was yours, with envy lean,
Which led me to the guillotine!"
"Again, not so. Not in this life;
Your kind I'd rather make my wife.
But if, within another life,
My hand betrayed you with a knife,
I've suffered plenty for the deed,
And come to you, heart worn with need."
"Need! What need? What awful greed?"
"A word with you is all I plead."
"A word. A word, oh how absurd."
"Or shall I warble like a bird?"
She eyed me for a moment's breadth,
Then humor to her features crept.
"On second glance, I see the chance
My mind awakens from a trance.
Your face seems different, as of late;
My eyesight never was that great.
You seem a nicer lad, at any rate.
Your words are mild; your eyes are
Well, alright, then; you've got me. Speak."
I thought to tell her of my land,
And all the works of modern man:
That messages were sent on air,
That men could go where eagles dare.
That life was longer by two-fold,
That men were neither bought nor sold,
That moving pictures could be made,
And on a blank screen be displayed,
That meals were just a casual jaunt
To any fast-food restaurant.
I thought to tell her of the men,
Who left their mark upon my land,
Of communism's bloody rise,
And subsequently its demise,
Of Hitler and Napolean,
And all their train of murderous men,
Of how the Church had lost its hold
On common people, young and old,
And of the music she had missed,
An endless, ever-growing list.
I thought to tell her of my soul,
My ever-shifting wants and goals,
My shyness and uncertainty,
My longing for good company,
My earnest hope that I would find,
A twice-blessed woman, fair and kind,
A lady like herself who would be mine.
But as my lips began their speech
A darkness rushed into the breach.
The scene changed to a noisy square
With people shouting everywhere.
A woman lay upon a plank,
Her dress was rich, her features blank,
I felt a rope taut in my hand
And saw the blade above its span.
An echo of a distant shade
Spoke, "Alas, this play was played."
I gazed at her; she looked at me;
Her terror shone for all to see,
And loathing, hatred bared at me.
My grip grew tight, my vision blurred.
"No! No!" I screamed, but never heard.
The masses roared, "Off with her head!"
And then the queen lay dark and dead.
And so, drear shadows, make my bed,
Immortal Silence, we are wed.
My queen! My queen! She's dead...
George Chadderdon © 1994