In the morning they came, through the cloud and the rain,
With horses like dusk and swords like fire;
No knew why the 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 defeat…
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 earrings…
And the form of a child, sprawled on the floor.
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