I knew a man who for a piece of peace
of mind did sell the language of his heart
to his embattled self who wants and gets
then wants it not and now he marches like
a sentinel in epaulets and brass
around the outer ring he wears to keep
encroaching women from the places where
he hurts and thus in exile keeps himself
aloof, a donjon tower with a view.
This male Rapunzel, fairy tale reversed
lusts for the darkling princess whose despair
in eloquence expressed appeals, in hopes
she might from his imprisonment unspring
his wintry heart and free him like the harts
of old to leap through wooded dells and chase
the virgin and the innocent again
for crenelated man knows naught but on
and off, of open, closed, and thus he’s locked.
You’ll know you’ve met the man of whom I speak
when in his presence you experience
a weakening sense of beauty, losing words
that once came easily, the smile that lit
your eyes grows dim, convinced you are that what
he doesn’t want from you is what you lack.
It is a trap of shadows that no light
can penetrate; the battered ram must find
his own release; he has the means, not you.
And scarce attention pay to those who crowd
his cold abode, they are the moat, well stocked
the bait that feeds the memories of his wounds.
Upon your road ahead keep both eyes fixed;
the language of the map within your heart
will see you safely through, the fates they will
refashion all you learned from him who taught
you prison’s way, and in the brightening dawn
you’ll smile to hear the free man’s joyous song.
© Elaine Stirling, 2012