The Crossroads

Sitting at the table
the boatman handed me a drink,
the music was such a ruckus
that I could hardly think.
I drank of his libation
and he offered me a ride,
and suddenly quite dizzy
I got up with the guide.
“Now give me just a moment”
I told him as I stood,
and gazed into the darkness
that lay beneath his hood.
“There’s one who I must visit
before I come along,”
and I staggered through the room
for his drink was mighty strong.
I looked into the corners
but there she was not found,
the entire place was swaying
to the music’s wild sounds.
I looked into the blackness
and looked into the light,
for the lady of the shadows
in a gown of silky white.
Standing by the doorway
I heard the sound of bells,
the lady sat reading
from the book of the Kells.
On a page about redemption
and the temptations of fate,
I moved to her quickly
for the hour had grown late.
“Lady may I ask you
of the words that you once spoke,
of a land of silver apples,
and one of fire and smoke.”
She handed me two coins
and whispered back “Elyse,”
one was marked with “want,”
and the other marked with “need.”
Then suddenly she vanished
and the boatman reappeared,
he said the ship was waiting
and all was as I feared,
for my feet had lost direction,
in this hour dark and late,
I headed to the waters
on a path no longer straight.
And the boat upon the river
of ghosts and sorrows black,
was all that I could see
and there was no way back.
The wayfarer reached his hand
on the shore in the dark
I handed him the coin I held,
marked with the word “want.”
The vessel departed
and such sorrows I beheld,
of souls long tormented
of spirits who long fell.
And I thought of the lady
and from the valley beneath,
I heard a voice whisper
the lonely name “Elyse.”
Just then the boat hit the shore
and ahead stood a gate,
guarded by a triple beast
and I beheld my fate,
and there the procession
slowly moved ahead,
my mind was slow and dizzy,
my heart was filled with dread.
We headed up the mountain
to the masters flaming throne,
and when I reached the summit,
suddenly alone,
and I could taste the flames,
and feel them on my skin,
yet he was nowhere to be seen;
for my heart he dwelled within.
I’d reached the furthest distance
of the blackened abyss,
yet now my feet were steady
as I remembered a kiss,
of a lady of sorrow
who long ago had fled,
bringing with the seasons,
down the path that lay ahead.
I could see her fading footsteps
from this grim forsaken place,
and I ran into the darkness,
in pursuit of long lost grace.
I could hear the flames behind,
cry “none shall ever escape”
yet I would not look back,
as to the shores I raced.
I heard the hounds approaching
at the back of my heals,
and the words “don’t look back”
rolled across the field.
I rushed through the shadows
to the river far below,
and met a dark guardian
who would not let me go.
“Present the sacred name”
implored the shadow beast,
and suddenly he vanished
as I whispered back “Elyse.”
By the river fast approaching
a hooded figure stood,
by a vessel on the waters
and all was understood.
I reached into my pocket
and the figure reached to me,
I handed forth the coin
marked with the word “need,”
and we headed across the waters,
this time still with peace.
The hood of darkness lifted
and there stood sweet Elyse.
Anto the shore of apples
we quickly did approach,
and landing on the shores
the lady softly spoke.
“Never forget the difference
of the coins of want and need,
standing at the crossroads
remember where they lead.
You may taste the flames of desire
or the apples of the queen,
you may know the lure of wanting
or the fruit of summers green.”
And suddenly I returned
to the table where it began,
and there stood the figure
with a drink in his hand.
My eyes found the doorway
and the lady dressed in white,
and I answered the boatman,
“No thank you, not tonight.”