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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: The Harlot's Tree
By Ryan Tribble


Between two verdant hills across the creek,
Shaded within the walls of brush and trees,
In a golden meadow where deer in safety seek,
A tree, and a pool to refresh your weary knees.

No ordinary tree, where two brothers once played,
And dreamed to wed their wives beneath its boughs.
This I was told upon that night where we laid,
To conceal their secret paradise, they did vow.

Through the misted forest and silver light,
He led me by the hand over the trodden trail.
A pursuing presence filled my heart with fright,
Piercing the cinnamon-like breeze, a fawn's wail.

Through the veil of night, we gazed upon the pool,
Our faces rippling beneath the whispering tree.
Like liquid night, the water soothed my troubled soul.
Against the tree, he turned and said, "come and see."

He pressed my hand to the tree and smiled,
Then these words carved with knife I traced,
Written from the heart of my beguiled.
My sin crushed my heart, in fear it raced.

Not for me these three words; "I love thee."
He bowed and for my hand he asked,
A raven cawed in the night, a warning to flee.
Fear dissolved his words of love, to the tree I backed.

My body shivered, could I tell him the truth?
Not his love, but pleasure, and gold I desired.
He was a Boaz, but I was not his Ruth.
A harlot, I loved a man, until of him I was tired.

Then from within the woods, a sword from sheath sang,
Its morbid tune of fear, its thirst for bloody wine.
Like a lion, the assassin upon us, his cry for battle rang.
With last embrace, my lover clung to the pine.

His severed head vanished beneath the bloody pool.
Trembling, I gazed into the assassin's face,
"You've desecrated this sacred meadow, cursed fool!"
"Not me, but you! How did you find this place?"

Fear and sorrow burdened me; this, my husband's voice.
"My lord, we must flee from this man's brother."
He dropped his sword with a bitter laugh against his choice.
"Wretch, I'm the brother! Cursed like Cain, my distant father."

As a lion--wounded with his brother's blood--he roared.
"Filthy witch! Death will not balance your scale.
You love sin, and by him you will be adored!"
By the words written on the tree, my heart grew pale.

No longer my husband's wife, but his money leach.
Upon a time, I flirted with sin; but now my master.
Like a deer from wolves, for safety running to reach,
So we fled, but the law was faster.

Our marriage was tied by our secret threats,
As a harlot, I would be stoned,
As a murderer, his blood would repay his debts.
Someday his chain I would break and be atoned.

Oh to breathe that virgin air again,
And recall the arrows of my bow!
Every flowered meadow proclaimed my sin,
I tainted love like blood does snow.

In sorrow my husband sipped his wine,
Scarce a word passed his frowning lips.
The Furies whipped him with their "cat of nine."
Into the cup of wrath, judgment drips.

Then one night, returning home -- that menace.
Fear stirred my emotions, my feet quickened.
An open door, an empty house, with a dying furnace.
The wolves had found the nest, my heart sickened.

I inquired, and was pointed to a barren hill,
Against the dawning sky, soldiers setting poles.
"To be crucified, for his brother he did kill."
Curiosity burned within, the sights fueled the coals.

Soldiers guarded a prisoner from the mob.
I stretched to see, and gasped in horror.
"Was this my husband? For him, I did not sob."
Swept away by the mob, I followed in terror.

The wind chilled my bones; the sight, my heart.
My husband hung beside two suffering men,
He lifted his head, and I vanished with a dart.
I trembled, because that cross was for my sin.

Upon the center cross hung a beaten king,
My husband cursed, others mocked and even wept.
His words were a mystery, in my heart still they ring.
"Who is this man?" Curious, forward I crept.

I stood at a bloody pool, and remembered that night.
I stared, and thought my eyes deceived me,
But it was true, upon the base, like a dim light,
Those words written for a harlot: "I love thee."

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/20/07
Wow--you spun a wonderfully intriquing tale! I think I'd like this even better in short story format.

You have mastered lots of the poetic elements--language, rhyme, imagery--an established rhyme scheme will take this to the next level.

Very interesting!