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Lullaby

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The executioner upon the stage
Is nothing like the man I knew.
Once small and withered,
Leaning heavily on his cane,
A voice like dried grass,
He strides with easy grace to the chopping block,
Ax thrown casually over one shoulder.

I can see, through the slits in his mask,
The icy river of his eyes.
Cold, like winter dawn, they glare down at me
Where there was once such pride
In a child of his line.
My grandfather. The executioner.

He is the master at hand,
The king of his stage;
A black hooded crown marks his domain,
And I know that a smirk hovers
Ten miles wide
Over pale lips that smiled so kindly before.

He settles me over the block
Like he's tucking me into bed again
To the mournful tones of a violin
And quiet steps of a piano
Drifting silently into the afternoon air
Under the murmur of voices
Left by the gathered crowd.

I smile, memory blurring reality,
Shifting a blissful haze over my eyes
Until my grandfather's banner becomes a blanket
Fuzzy and warm
Soft
Like silk and butterfly milk
A tangle of threads
Spanning deep over time
Where fields of red meet the sky
At dusk.

And he smooths my hair,
One last time.
And I listen to his story,
One last time.
And he kisses me goodnight
With the blade of his ax
And I fall asleep
To the smile in his eyes
And the warmth of his arms

One Last Time



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