”I Will Kiss Thy Mouth”
I am the cleaning woman,
And here in this empty hall I stand,
A great hall of feasting no more,
But a banquet hall of death,
Where the lovely lass was crushed
By soldiers’ deadly shields
On orders of her father,
Him who looked longingly upon her
In manner most depraved,
Her father’s brother he,
And now her mother’s husband.
There in dark crimson in the hall’s center,
Where her battered body lay,
Her life so brutally snuffed out
On account of that infernal request
Because of the denial of a kiss.
There the sanguine coagulation spreads
In the self-same spot where she danced
With naked feet like white doves,
The dance of the seven veils.
And I, left with the solemn task
Of cleaning the terror’s aftermath.
And not far off the silver charger,
Lying in place where it was dropped,
Red-stained and without its luster,
Bearer of that sacred head
Severed from the body of the Herald
Because of love unrequited.
And can it be that those dead lips
Drained of blood she did kiss?
For so they said, for I was not there,
And just as well, for pleased I am
That abhorrent sight to be spared.
So here I am cleaning up spilled lives.
Alone in this Great Hall of death
Where sadness broods like a dark cloud
Recollecting that which transpired here,
Mawkish material for story-tellers and poets,
Musing of love, of death, and the forbidden,
Of knights and princes and dainty damsels,
But of maids and commoners silent.
And so now to the loathsome task I attend
While outside the gusty winds wail
In mournful tones of Salome.
In memory of Fingal O’Flahertie Wills
[Photographic Art by Ric Couchman]