In reading the following poem, consider what
you would do when faced with tyranny.
Choose the Card: Four of Swords
Lying on a coffin in a sandalwood cathedral,
you, the knight without armor, dream in daffodiled light.
Your forehead’s slick with chrism while
your palms build a steeple above your heart.
Above you, a blue Mary and a red-cloaked child
sing of your three hanging swords,
wanting you to take the fourth one,
rise, and green their blackened ground.
Oh, you want to be that knight
and restore the soil and feed the hungry child,
but considering your likeness sculpted
over a coffin in a perfumed cathedral won’t do.
Yes, gentle one, forget the effigy
and that custom which you never understood.
Why celebrate a dead warrior whose rash
valor only cemented corrupt kings and bishops’ rule?
But to be another knight, a scribe,
in your own church of words
and witness the other knights
for your brothers’ persuasion and warnings true.
First, the slumbering knight, that quivering knight,
who broods and broods
waiting, waiting, waiting for the best possible plan
until surrounding warriors lay him down.
And in contrast, the shadow knight, that cunning knight,
who wisely acts in stealth and outwits the strongest brute.
Choose then, gentle one, your best-knighted self
and will yourself to act
though be your sword a pen
and green your wee ones’ blackened ground
and green your wee ones’ blackened ground.