Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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by John M. Marshall

Autumn equinox -
knights have gathered in the vale.
Above them
an army of insurgents
drifts across the face of the mountain
like the shadow of a cloud.
The cavalry will engage them
among the primrose and the heather.
They will not yield the land
that is theirs,
their children’s,
and all their children’s heirs.
They will defend the meadows,
rivers, pastures, rills,
the houses, forts, and churches
even unto their doors.
Sunlight nimbly dances
on their flashing swords like diamonds;
their horses’ flaring nostrils
spout steam into the mist.
Down the mountain’s stony slope
the foreign army slithers;
their chieftain strides before them
shouting words of slander.
They want the knights’ mothers,
wives, sisters, daughters.
They will take them from the villages
in a massive ominous wave.
They descend into the valley,
a dark and cumbrous shroud,
and like a swarm of locusts
charge the band of knights.
The knights remain steadfast,
resolute in their courage,
then suddenly move forward
slowly in their gait.
Gathering speed they split
and race past the soldiers,
peel off in two swift arcs
like hawks on wings of flight.
The infantry is stunned,
lost in the distraction;
as a third legion of knights
emerges from the glen.
All three in perfect union
descend upon the throng,
brandish swords of silver
that blaze in autumn’s light.
Straight through the men they ride
like burnished bolts of lightning
wielding lofty lances
now stained with soldiers’ blood.
Survivors flee like sparrows.
The knights do not pursue them;
defense of home and family
is victory sweet enough.
Honor, faith and bravery
are the banners raised to sky.
Power reined by mercy
is their shield on plains of war.

© 2012 John M. Marshall

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