I fear you none.
For though you give chase across time, across ages,
through valleys blackened by pain
and pastures greened with hope,
the labor is solely yours.
You know my name, but yours will go unsaid,
until the moment of leaving, at whose gates I will no longer care.
For though I might gaze across years, across oceans,
toward a horizon whose distance I will know only once,
you cannot touch me until then.
And so I fear you none.
Strip away the leaves of others, take them as you must.
Peel dry the orchard in which I live, whether summer sapling or wintered oak,
whether friend or foe, whether loved or despised.
I care not.
For they are mine forever, and yours but once.
And whence they come to you, wordless and unchangeable,
they are immortal to me.
In spirit indomitable.
In memory indestructible.
So take them. I care not.
Once the forest falls and I am the only one left,
you may cast your shadow upon me.
Victory, you may claim, fleshless, arid, and everlasting.
And you may laugh to see me kneel in the dirt, under grey skies,
under columns of black clouds in which no heaven awaits.
But nameless, I will hold you.
And bittersweet, your conquest.
For the dark line, drawn in the sand at the time of your choosing,
is no loss to me, no more than a whisper in the eon of my soul.
And I shall fear you none.
Whether sharp and sudden or a slow carrion crawl,
my burdens will be shed,
my thousand aches mended,
and sleep again I shall until the ending of all ages.
But you, my friend,
you must toil on.
For whether here or there or a in place yet unnamed,
your work is never done.
J Edward Neill