The Brown Dead

There ar dungeon rooms of rock walls filled with dry peanut shells, trapped spiders, and dead mice. Nothing else enters; there’s no room. The night from the woods whines as a river winding swirling purple-black curving around and past the castle, down the valley to cover the village with darkness. Darkness swallows the stars, and tortures the trees. Orchard fruit grows moss; roots are twisted, trunks are gnarled. A dry-old peasant woman in her dark garden dreams of secret waters. A brown potato seems to sweat pressured in her dry prune-hands. Her toothless mouth lags open, for the cellar smell of the surrounding vineyards. Her cavern eyes are open for the cold air, stagnant. All the old women are buried in the village churchyard. There are no roads to the castle. Mist collects on its walls. Around it, thick thorny bushes have lost their leaves. A diseased rabbit huddles, caught in the night among rocks in the cornfield dreaming of dew, the tears of God.

October 1971