DIANA’S JUSTICE



DIANA’S JUSTICE, by Adele Gardner:

The maiden hies off to the woods:
On a moon-pale steed she rides,
Decked out in doublet, hose of black,
A sword all by her side.

She goes to meet her own true love
With lips pursed in a frown,
And rides beneath the greenwood boughs
Until the sun goes down.

Dismounting in the chosen glade,
She sits upon a stone.
With sword laid flat across her knees,
She waits for him to come.

Brush crackles, and her head snaps up.
Her eyes suss out the sound —
Then narrow as he greets the grove
With smile broad as her frown.

“Ah, love,” he grins, then sidles close,
His arms outspread, his hands
Prepared to smooth her knitted brow;
She hefts the sword and stands.

“Love?” she says, her voice quite low,
“Is that what you name this ill
That makes you think you have the right
To bend me to your will?”

His smile falls off; he backs a step,
Tramples its shattered joy,
Mouth gaping in bewilderment —
“You thought it just a ploy?

“I love you, and I thought that you — ”
“Speak not that word to me!”
Her eyes flash in the dusky woods;
Her voice shakes bitterly.

“A virgin I walked out with you,
A virgin I’d remain —
You said you understood and wouldn’t
Challenge my domain,

“You plotted to seduce me — you
Believed I had no mind
To give that gift of my free will,
And in my own good time!”

His brow is creased beneath fair hair;
His chin trembles with grief.
“I made you want me, didn’t I,
Till you must have some relief?”

She spits at him and hefts the sword
Till he backs off again.
Her eyes dart wild with the distress
Of thus confronting him.

“That’s just the point!  I trusted you
To help uphold my vow;
I didn’t want to want you then,
And I don’t want to now!

“You sought for your own pleasure, so
You played games with my mind!
You made me false to that most dear —
That was the most unkind!”

Now he draws out his dagger, his
Blue eyes gone wide with fear —
She lifts the sword to mark his chest,
Scowl marred by silent tears.

“Ah, love,” he begs, “don’t do this, you’ll
Regret it all your life!”
He holds her eyes.  He ducks the sword
And strikes out with his knife.

“Traitor!” she screams at silver flash,
“You’d steal my life now, too?”
“You’ve mine!” he cries as blades swing down,
Too late to halt for rue.

He stabs her right below the heart;
Her sword cuts through his chest.
Two loves who share one pool of blood —
Diana’s case can rest.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Adele Gardner’s poetry collection, Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam’s Dot Publishing.  Her stories and poems have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Legends of the PendragonThe Doom of CamelotPenumbraScheherazade’s Façade, Strange HorizonsMythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, and New Myths, among others.  In 2012, she chaired the Rhysling Awards for the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  Currently cataloging librarian for a public library, she’s also literary executor for her father, Delbert R. Gardner.  Please visit www.gardnercastle.com.

 


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