Death’s Keep

Art by John Kenn Mortensen

She reached upwards, for safety, with her peach skinned hand,

While reflected in the murky, engulfing sea, was death

As it grabbed her ankle, with its snake skinned hand,

Pulling her away, towards the abyssinian inferno,

Her soft, full of life hand, was eroding into nothing

As her savior, had no means of liberating her from doom,

Tying the dock anchor around himself, he dove into the abyss,

Without sight to guide him, he felt for her, but touched emptiness

Instead of the cascade of her embrace, as he was enveloped by distance,

So he slowly climbed back, onto the petrified dock

Where he could stare out, into dark and violent waters,

With waves, crashing ferociously, against the trembling banks,

No longer, could he hear her, submerged into death’s clutches,

But who could, over the constant crash, on the boundless battlefield,

Where soldiers, lose their nerve, standing at the crest

Being baited, by those lurking beneath the hollow surface,

And like those soldiers, he stood frozen in the unknown

That grasped at life, and dragged it through affliction,

Beyond his fear, there was his purpose, sinking rapidly,

And to resurrect her, he’d have to venture, into the deep.

~II~

He climbed into a beaten lifeboat, paddled, against the waves

Which grew in its brutality, but couldn’t restrain his persistence,

Onward, further from the platform, into the open grave,

Crucial exchanges of blows, paddle to water, overlapping

Onto the frail boat, as the waves, growling in their approach,

Fight to consume the traveler, in the sound of watery fury,

As he paddled, frantically, he kept sight on the horizon

Past the plunging valley, intertwined with waves,

Narrowly escaping, the clutches of the crushing drowning,

He found himself, in the abounding open, on calmer tides,

For it was, eerily quiet, no birds squawking overhead

Or the wrestle, of the current against the side of the boat,

Nor the paddle, breaking thought the surface of the water,

There was no sound here, as he yelled out to the Devil,

“Come back and fight me, for she is not yours to take!”

He couldn’t be certain, if those words, even projected,

Surrounded by the choppy water, beside him, sits his terror,

As a faint sound, flows, along the tops of the water,

A siren guide, appears, with no desire to be his aid,

“Hello, silly traveler, who has foolishly ventured too deep

For you do not belong amongst these riffs, reverse your path.”

“I cannot, I’ve come to retrieve a life, taken in error.”

The spirit chuckles lightly, pauses briefly, and echoes in response,

“Death makes no mistakes, precise, for it’s by great design.”

“She doesn’t belong beyond the black, for she is of great importance,

Your design is gravely flawed, and she must be revived”

She chuckles again, and comes in closer to the still boat,

“You believe, you are currently speaking with death,

That I am the one, who can revive life, to be amongst the animate,

You, silly traveler, are the one who is gravely flawed,

To death’s sunken dwelling, is no simple tiptoe trail,

Your vigor will be tested, before accessing the devil’s domain,

But I am curious, I’d like to see the outcome of this encounter.”

She floats her finger, pointing further, into the cold hush,

And told him to continue, towards the bleak eternal,

Then vanishes, with a nudge of wind, forcing the sail.

~III~

Alone, in the dusk, with the boat lamp highlighting solitude,

Silence reemerges, drowning the traveler in the ominous,

A faint howling silence, that seizes the boat’s motion

While the stillness, gets louder, and slightly more discernable

Each time a wave, subtly splashes along, the boat’s feeble side,

A voice, calling out from beyond the darkness, his focus

Searching for him, below the crumbling shed of light,

No, it wasn’t her, a voice that sends biting pricking needles

All throughout his being, shaking him down to his knees,

He now recognizes, his voice, thats keeps repeating an utterance,

It continues to circle, like a pack of vultures, about to strike,

Suddenly, in a cold snap of a second’s tic, “You cannot save her!”

A monstrous echo, that sent a daunting chill, into his chest

At which he grabbed, and gasped for empty breaths,

Refusing to sink into the crushing deep, back against the wind,

The traveler stood up, grabbed the paddles and took charge,

As he noticed a slither, hastily warping the water,

Streaming like a torpedo, aiming straight, at the feeble boat,

With growing raging waves, so fierce, following closely,

Nearing the boat, with tremors from the speeding approach,

With the winds on his side, he evaded wave, after wave,

Until, he steered too far in, and was struck, by a forceful current,

The boat, reduced to splintered pieces, now floating, aimlessly,

As the traveler, tumbles along the stirring undercurrent.

~IV~

Waking up, after an uncertain, amount of time,

The traveler finds himself, on the shore, of a brittle island,

A voice, snatches his attention, spins him to face death’s throne

By suddenly booming, the very first audible sound

He has heard, since the first steps down this rabbit hole,

“Are you the bringer, of this, supposed force majeure

That believes, he can sway and overturn my mind,

No one, who is snatched into my web, ever gets released.”

Shaken down to the ground, with fear and anger battling,

The traveler, with only his eyes, looked up at the abductor,

“She belongs unchained, far from your dominion,

She isn’t finished, there’s more for her to accomplish

And removing her from existence, stunted her growth.”

“And why should I be concerned, her meaning, is minimal. “

“To you, she’s a faceless object, occupying space that’s irrelevant,

Except to me, those grounds she graces, are the purest,

This is my end, not hers, for it was my fault we crashed,

I hesitated, froze, at the barrelling trailer, stampeding,

And colliding with our vehicle, sending us towards the edge,

But a sudden collision, with the sturdy dock barrier

Kept me inside, while my little girl, had been taken,

As if I had willingly, given her up, to the black hooded cloak.”

“Your daughter, vacated existence, onto the carving of my scythe,

Could the devastation, really be boiled down to your failure,

Your weight to carry, as you suffer from the doom of the crash,

Yes, for it’ll plague your days, an exemplary hell, on earth.”

“Unless you take me, let me sink in the void forever

While my daughter continues, and lives out her days.”

A grumbling silence, as death slowly descends,

Coming, to face the traveler, standing on the fragile shore,

Still towering over him, death peers down to deliver a response,

“Two beings, swim in limbo, and I’d gladly swallow both,

But by design, only one is required, to fulfill destiny,

Which has brought you to me, pleading for her innocence,

To which I accept, for even death can be bargained upon,

Your journey was true, and not at all a simple task,

Look, for you have proven yourself, despite your crushing doubt.”

Death point at the rising light, as a shadow, alongside

Gradually appears, walking through, to the other side,

The traveler stares, as his travels conclude, and is finally at peace,

Death floats over to him, and softly whispers… we must go.

~V~

Her peach skinned hand, feeling the gentle cool breeze

Brushing by, and up to her shoulder, to perch,

She gazes out, into the swaying crowd of the ocean valley,

A whisper in gratitude, and a tear, for the one who sacrificed.