Dark Green Eyes

She knew she had done right by betraying
Him to the people who were his foes.
After all, it was a price he merited paying;
He had done terrible things, and those
Who had suffered for it deserved revenge.
But one thing strange seems to avenge

Him for her betrayal: his eyes.
She attended his execution, and remembers
The way he looked at her, bitter and wise,
Until the light in his face to embers
Had sunk, and then moved beyond. The fire
That had sustained him and kindled her desire

Was gone to some place beyond knowing.
But those eyes stared at her forever,
And somehow, when she should have been going,
She remained there, unwilling to sever
The last of the connection that bound them.
It was a shame that loyalties found them,

There in the midst of their own private love.
But she shakes her head and dismisses it.
She has been paid well, and heaven above
Smiles on her hurt; the money kisses it-
Perhaps not as well as he could have if alive
He were; but she will surely live and thrive.

Strange, she thinks as she walks the street,
How many people with dark green eyes
Like her dead love's she seems to meet,
All of them turning to look at her, wise
To what she did for her people and state.
She walks the streets proudly, her spine straight.

But sometimes those dark green eyes
Stare at her in uncomfortable ways.
Of course, he is dead, attracting flies,
The way killers are buried these days.
She knows that he is not really there,
Though it is unnerving, when her hair

For a moment in the mirror she uses
To brush it, seems to ripple and vanish,
And before her dark green pierces her excuses,
And rouses an anguish she needs to banish
With a moment of hard and concentrated calm.
But quick breathing and hard thoughts are a balm.

"You are dead," she tells the mirror in quiet
That no one else, of course, hears or has broken.
He would have murdered people, fomented riot.
She looks back at the mirror, but as if spoken
Words are their bane as they were his,
The dark green vision has ceased to exist.

She has found a new lover; he's funny,
And laughs and jokes with her as he never did.
Of course, he may love her for her money,
But no hidden plans in his eyes have hid.
And one thing above all: she knows that he
Is just slightly less intelligent than she.

She walks with him down the street, and sings
Old songs that she used to sing in bed
When around them the wind whistled on wings,
And strange things his dark green eyes said-
She stops the thought with a careless smile.
That was only true of her life for a while.

Now something else of her life is true,
And she looks up; far contrariwise,
She meets an earnest gaze calm and blue.
This lover, at least, does not have his eyes,
That sometimes it seems she sees everywhere.
She laughs and shakes the wind from her hair,

And asks her lover where they should go.
He bends down and kisses her, and hurt
Flashes across his face when she says, low
And soft, "Your lips taste like grave dirt."
She strides down the street; his breath
Smells as if he has been kissing death.

She stands and stares on the edge of the cliff;
They brought the news that morning, soft
As they could be. He drowned in his skiff.
And now she stands where the wind sings aloft
Gulls and petals and foam and other sea-trash,
As if it might bring him back, if she would ask.

She bows her head, her heart aching and sharp.
She told him his kisses tasted like death,
Not that she loved how he played her like a harp,
How he made her quicken and catch her breath.
She looks up again, and stumbles back.
For no reason she knows, the sea has turned black.

No- not black, but the deepest, darkest green
She has ever noticed outside of winter holly.
She stares steadily out over the changed scene,
Refusing to admit fear into her melancholy.
Only a moment, and the sea turns back to blue.
Then she can begin her mourning for true.

She is visiting her sister, and sister's child.
They are talking about some small-talk thing
When a scream rises, agonized and wild,
And her sister runs out like a bird on the wing.
She pauses; then after her sister she goes,
And stops, sickened, in the outer door's shadows.

Her sister is crying, wildly as can be.
Her child is hanging from his own intestines
That are wrapped around the branch of the tree
He has always loved for its ivy vines.
His body sways, pushed by a touch of rough air.
The sun shines on above, unconcernedly fair.

She looks up, going to comfort her sister,
And for one moment feels as if a queer blow
Has been struck, that only just missed her.
Then she sees something she did not want to know,
Something she had never realized, never once seen:
The ivy around the death-tree is his eyes' dark green.

She goes and opens her secret money-chest-
For her need to drink money wheedles-
And falls back with her hands on her breast.
The chest is full of writhing black beetles,
All of them writhing like a snake when it's bored,
All of them covering entirely her hoard.

She gulps back her sickness, and falls
Slowly back, as if the beetles might see her.
Then she is safely outside her own room's walls,
And allows herself to let out a choked whimper.
Then one thing she suddenly must realize:
They were the color of his dark green eyes.

She stands at his grave, and loud cries,
"Why are you haunting me? What have I done?
Take back your hatred, and your dark green eyes!
You were not fit to walk in the sun,
And so I hurt you, condemned you to death, betrayed!
But, surely, the full toll of price I have paid!"

The dirt ripples, then shifts and makes to stir.
She backs away, and then sees him high rise,
Striding from the grave, coming for her,
Whole and not rotted, with gleaming green eyes,
Dark green eyes, that laughing showed his moods
In days before, in their calm solitudes.

She turns to run; he wraps his arms tight
Around her waist, and drags her back with him.
The grave ripples once in the uncertain light,
And then he sinks into it; she tries to swim
Or struggle up; then the grave quietly lies,
And there are no more screams, or dark green eyes.