Willow’s Tale

“I am the bud and the blossom, I am the late-falling leaf.”
from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox

Led down the primrose path
they succumbed to The Flatterer’s guile,
followed him to their death.
All but her,
the youngest one.

Willow, he assumed, was gullible too.
Small in stature, she wisely hung back.
Saw angry rolling brine ahead
slipped into a shrub and hid,
covering herself with leafy fronds.

Her sisters sang as they followed him,
not seeing Willow’s gesticulations.
She waved desperately to alert them,
but they walked on under his spell
eyes only on him.

Surely his scepter, his magical skills,
would keep them afloat they thought.
They danced o’er waves. Waded deeper still.
Alas, only a devastating result,
one by one they disappeared.

He counted each beautiful head
swallowed by guzzling salty foam.
“One is missing!” he screamed.
Looking backward toward land
he saw nothing, heard nothing.

Diving deep, he swam to his maidens
now ashen, sinking dead weight.
Tying their hair together, he took the eldest’s hand,
pulled them to his kingdom,
far from shore.

Willow wept silently,
her small feet cold in tear stained soil.
Long curls hung wet round her cheeks.
“Help me oh Lord,” she pleaded.
“I am but the last alive of them.”

She cried in torrents
until a rogue cold breeze
whipped round her face.
Tears suspended in air,
her lean lithe body, solid froze.

Now something she was not before,
Yet she prospered over many years.
Pure happiness, mythologists would say.
Yet still she wept and weeps today,
especially amongst her kind.

Children play hide and seek,
joyfully tug those leafy fronds.
Sisters long gone, yet she has borne many.
Weeping Willow trees o’er the land,
her legacy to all.

Written for dVerse where today we’re asked to consider the element of paradox within our poetry and be inspired by one of several lines provided for the prompt. Line I’ve used is at the top of the poem as an epigraph. Photo from pixabay.com.

10 thoughts on “Willow’s Tale

  1. calmkate February 23, 2021 / 7:46 pm

    Absolutely love this ‘myth’ of the willow tree … a lovely way to interpret his paradox!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rothpoetry February 24, 2021 / 12:04 am

    Oh I love this Lillian! What a great twist at the end. And the contrast in the sisters is so much like life and the choices we all have to make. Well done!!

    Like

  3. Ingrid February 24, 2021 / 5:30 am

    This is so beautiful and such a haunting narrative! I am curious if this is based on a known myth, or one you have invented? Either way, it is captivating!

    Like

  4. kim881 February 24, 2021 / 6:03 am

    As I read your poem, Lill,
    I mouthed it to the curly willow
    in our garden, sadly naked still.
    A charming myth, and I imagined the scene with Willow weeping silently and how
    ‘She cried in torrents
    until a rogue cold breeze
    whipped round her face.
    Tears suspended in air,
    her lean lithe body, solid froze.’

    Like

  5. Laura Bloomsbury February 24, 2021 / 8:48 am

    I enjoyed this weeping willow myth in your verse Lilian and will think of it now when I see the trees

    Like

  6. ben Alexander February 24, 2021 / 9:08 am

    Wow; this was a riveting story-poem, Lillian. I so enjoyed it!

    -David

    Like

  7. sanaarizvi February 25, 2021 / 12:58 pm

    I enjoyed this Willow’s tale immensely, my dearest Lillian 😀 especially love the part revolving around her “tear stained soil.” You have taken the prompt to a whole new dimension! 💝💝

    Like

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