“The Daisy Ring”

“The Daisy Ring”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

“I found thee in a faerie copse…”

“Hmm?” she murmured
Her gaze caught somewhere
In the rainy neon night-world
Beyond the coffee shop window
Her fingers weightless
Feather-like
In my hand
Ethereal
Furnace-hot

“I found thee in a faerie copse
Alighting on each flower fair
And as I ‘proached thee in the hopes
Of snaring thee in lovers’ ropes
Thou disappeared into thin air…”

She looked at me then
A faint smile teasing
Her lips
“Your poetry is terrible,” she said
Her tired eyes regarding me warmly
For a moment before
Returning to the
Pouring rain beyond
Our personal universe
Of rickety little table and
Untouched mocaccinos
Her brown eyes
Glistening
Misting
As she scanned the night
A single tear tracing
The curve of her cheekbone
In the garish glare of the
Outside world

I stared at her hand
Too pale and fragile
Almost transparent
As it nestled idly in mine
Like some sickly dove
The delicate silver band on her
Too-thin ivory finger
Etched with some flowing
Unknown script resembling a
Daisy chain
It was all I could do
Not to look at
The rest of her
But I did anyway
I had to
And it hurt

I closed my eyes
And allowed my
Memories of her
To replace the despairing image
Burned into my mind
As she sat in somber contemplation
On an unremarkable stormy night
In some nameless coffee shop
In an arbitrary world
Where prayers go unanswered
And hope dies on the vine
And nothing is what it seems

The image that settled
In my mind’s eye was
The first time I saw her
As I made my aimless way along
Some mindless city sidewalk
In some pointless other reality
Her face ensconced in a
Breeze-blown mane of
Luxuriant onyx hair
As she peered out the window
Of a passing bus
Looking at nothing
Lost in some reverie of her own
A faint bemused smile
Causing her face to glow
So brightly I had to
Look away or be blinded
And though she didn’t see me
I couldn’t stop seeing her
And was it fate that I eventually
Found her?
A miracle?
Random chance?
I chose fate
But I was wrong
I didn’t find her
She found me
And by that point
It was too late

I opened my eyes
And all pretense fled
Immediately

She was fading
Diminishing
Before my eyes
Her essence draining
As though her soul
Had been punctured
By some eldritch poisoned dart
She must have known
What I was thinking
(She always did)
And she looked at me
Out of anguished eyes
Drowning in
Dark forbidden pools
And squeezed my hand with
All of her might
Her grip so weak by now
So frail
“You can’t save me…”

I looked at her angrily
About to deny this lie
This horrible, god-awful lie

“No…” she whispered
She reached out and
Touched my cheek
And after a time
All my anger dissolved
Into shame
And ran down my face
She wiped away
My pathetic tears and
Placed her moistened hand
Back in mine
Her sterling daisy ring
Gleaming dully

“Tell me again,” she said
As she tried to smile
“Tell me again of how you found me…”

And I looked at her
A solemn, resigned calmness
Settling over me like
A sheet pulled over the face
Of the deceased
She knew it wasn’t true
She knew she’d chosen me
Not the other way around
And I’d been powerless to resist
But she indulged my silly-sad
Fantasies
Because she loved me
And because she loved my
Puerile poetry

I swallowed hard
Shut my eyes against
What was about to happen
And said

“I found thee in a faerie copse…”

Her hand began to tremble in mine

“Alighting on each flower fair…”

The din of the coffee shop quieted
As the subtle incense
Of pine and myrtle
Wafted delicately

“And as I ‘proached thee in the hopes…”

A distant, stifled sob lilted softly
In the silence amid
The nearly indiscernible cries
Of birdsong

“Of snaring thee in lovers’ ropes…”

Her hand pulled away from mine
As gently as a parting lover’s kiss

“Thou disappeared into thin air…”

There was an almost imperceptible sigh
Like a forlorn forest breeze

When I finally opened my eyes
Her burnished silver daisy ring was
All that was left of her

She was gone

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