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The Watchmaiden


Master John Inchingham           


Between Matins and lauds,
Lonely vigil watch I walk
Minutes marked by flame
As candle melts away
Relief comes when night is through.
With each dawn is hope renewed
My betrothed is a man
In princely prime

Endless line of chiurgeons,
Hurry scurry surgeons
To and fro, come and go
To heal my man
While I within this tower
Outwait the weary hours
Simple watchmaiden am I
I shall not cry

Hark the bells from tierce to none
Toll the cold relentless drone
Candle-fire adds a cadence
Few men heed
Round the restless room time creeps
Fraying will and mocking sleep
Holy mother, wake my man
From this bad dream

Endless line of well-wishers
Both friends and favor-fishers
In a trance, bow and dance
Before my man
I pray in vain for power
To shed this weight of hours
Weary watchmaiden am I
I cannot cry

In the dusk after vespers,
speaking in soft whispers
Visitors are swept away
As flamelight fades
And I alone remain, dear
Awaiting dawn of our year
My beloved leave me strength
To face the day

Endless line of grown children
A sea of grieving pilgrims
As grains of wheat, so they meet
To mourn my man
While I descend this towner
And mask these weary hours
Regal watchmaiden am I
I shall not cry

© 1998 Steve Katlack
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