The Fool

The stage is set,

The king and queen

Atop their thrones,

The weary heir behind them.

The courtiers mingle

In the crowded hall,

Awaiting the entertainment,

The Fool.

~

He pulls on his hat,

Its horns trimmed with bells,

He shakes his head

To hear the metallic jingle.

On his face,

He forces a smile.

~

The people quiet

As he walks in,

Dressed in the clothes

Of patched colors.

To the court

The patches are frivolous,

To the Fool

They are warmth.

~

They clap their hands,

Jeer and mock,

As he struts by

Jingling with pride,

A bauble in one hand,

Its end carved to match his face,

And his mandolin in the other,

Tuned to create the perfect mood.

~

He jingles to the throne,

A broad smile upon his face,

Bows to the king and queen

And the heir frowning in the shadows.

~

His nimble fingers

Covered with calluses of memory,

Pluck the strings of the mandolin.

The King smiles upon his Fool,

And claps as the man dances by.

~

He climbs the stairs

Shaking the striped bauble at the queen.

The courtiers erupt

In a steady flow of laughter.

~

The Fool continues on,

Juggling any object thrown,

Flipping through the air

As some courtier waves a sword.

The people cheer,

And laugh,

And scoff.

Never removing their glistening eyes

From the form of the Fool.

~

The sun sets

Allowing the blanket of night

To disperse the last hues

Of the amber day.

The courtiers and nobles

Exit the court

Still chuckling

At the playful Fool.

~

The King stays behind,

Hunched on his thrown,

Crown in hands,

A solemn look upon his face

And motions to the jingling man.

~

He sidles to the King,

Aware of the future,

Cautious not to expose the truth,

Shoving the premonition

Out of his mind.

~

The King cries over him

His heart slowly breaking

Fearing that death

Has finally found him,

And is waiting for him

In the shadows of the court.

~

With a look of pity

Yet a voice of steel

The Fool comforts the man

Shaking with fear.

~

He leaves the room

Looking back just one more time

Saying farewell

To the man he loves as a father,

To the man on the throne.

Once out of the court

He breaks down the smile

Allowing the tears to flow

They race down his flushed cheeks,

Across his mouth,

Falling lazily onto his colorful garb.

~

A hand descends to his shaking shoulders

Causing the Fool to jump in fright.

There stands the heir,

A smile upon his face,

A finger in front of his lips,

His hand shimmers in the moonlight,

As he waves a dagger in front of the eyes.

The Fool nods in loyal obedience,

A sad smile forming on his face,

And sorrowfully jingles down the hall.

~

Alone at night,

Atop his bed of stone,

Listening to the sounds of betrayal,

The Fool's jocular remarks

Fade to tears,

Asking the heavens,

How could his life

Have wandered so far astray?