Torn Asunder

In the morning they came, through the cloud and the rain,

With horses like dusk and swords like fire;

No knew why they were here; they had nothing to gain,

Except perhaps fear, and terror to inspire.

-

They passed through the town; a bolt of some vengeful god.

The men struck down and the women in flight,

While the children stood at their doors, quietly awed;

There were none among them to stand and fight.

-

They drew forth bright flames, and the buildings were lit!

Roofs fell in smoke, and walls tore asunder.

All in a day, the works of years fell bit by bit,

Because of these cruel men come to plunder.

-

They reached the last house set high on the hill;

A great big house, home of their chief

(Though his own life was the first to still).

And his beautiful wife struck dumb in disbelief.

-

They pulled her up by her long black hair,

The most precious prize such a woman could own.

And with one quick stroke, to her neck so fair,

The seed of the end was bloodily sown.

-

From out of a closet comes their daughter, bright-eyed--

She was the last of this once-peaceful place--

When the news had come, she had been told to hide,

But now she knew: her end she had to face.

-

The tall, steely men laughed low and grim,

At the small, fragile girl who before them stood.

For it was best to ruin such a bright gem,

Not even come to her own womanhood.

-

(Her tiny arms reach up in a plea

Please, she says, not me, not me

Her legs are shaking

Her breath is breaking)

-

Stand tall before the edge of defeatā€¦

-

Now the grass grows over charred, broken wood,

And the bones of valiant men have crumbled to dust.

And about this place, only one thing's understood:

The swords made as crosses have all come to rust.

-

At the top of a great hill, the farthest home lies,

Still standing, unbroken, as if nothing had passed;

As if in its wholeness, the deed done it denies,

Yet the only testament that will ever last.

-

Inside that one house, there are only three things,

To tell the tale to anyone who passes the door:

A broken sword, two bloody earringsā€¦

And the form of a child, sprawled on the floor.