They called her the Abbess
and looking back, I can see why--
she wore emptiness inside her eyes.
See, every night I would sit up in my tree and watch her,
working in the abbey garden for hours on end,
sweating as she chopped at the earth with a hoe.
The flowers which covered the garden floor were black
and made an awful sucking, slurping noise
when they curled around her feet and
clung wetly to the tarnished metal which swept through them.
Every so often she would stop and look up at me
with that blind and staring gaze
and tell me I should be working too.
"Child," she would call, "look at my flowers! They are beautiful.
I will share some with you if you help."
Then I would shake my head and shrink back against the trunk
hiding from her in its branches for a moment.
I had nightmares about those flowers,
and looking back--it's strange,
but I think that she did too.
I saw her one day, crying as she slept,
curled up and shaking on one of the empty oak pews
in the chapel, her hoe left at the door,
unable to fill her, unable to prevent
the forlorn footprints that muddied
the center aisle.
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