Michael Wilbanks

The Warden Of The Light

We could hear the Song of Sunrise, in a time long ago,
I was one among the many whose eyes were lit aglow.
We were the children of the morning, the children of man,
And were eager to experience where all their rivers ran.

I was free, in and of the world, and that love was all I knew,
Ignorant of everything when I was taken by the few.
They came to me in mist and confounded me in their way,
They described to me their world, and taught me how to pray.

The few then left me there with only a vision and a prayer,
Where once the world had song, it was left with hazy glare.
As lost as antiquity, I meandered through this twilight,
Singing the Song of Morning, that still remained my birthright.

To the mist the song gave light, a diluted glimpse of the sun,
While its tendrils fought violently as their purpose was undone.
Their futile struggle was in vain as I continued my attack,
The victory I felt foundered as the light I found went black.

And as searing vapors flooded in, there came cataclysmic tones,
From the essence came a shape, a form of blood and bones.
The specter then before me, standing as a winter to my chill,
Even darkness fleeing from it and leaving only darker still.

Its shifting eyes, opalescent, that for which my fears extol,
One cold and vacant stare from it ripped my song from my soul.
Then a courtly bow from its figure with a kind gesture in hand,
Stilled the air of its dissonance and it motioned me to stand.

I had found myself prostrated, prone along the stone.
I forced myself upright wrapped in tendrils newly grown.
Fear struck me down then, when I lifted up my head;
My soul still holds the stains of the words that it said.

Phrases formed of ecstasy and delivered in hungry flame
A voice feared by kings and for servants all the same,
“Stand now Child of Morning, stand and hear my name;
A name sold for kings and for servants all the same,
Sold in holy temples and bartered for in shame
Stand now Child of Morning, stand and hear my name.”

A deep and inner gripping then grasping there my spine;
My body forced erect, as though to praise the most divine.
A shudder from the specter’s vale ceased its flow of sound,
Standing there in its silence as if waiting while I was bound.

In my uncertainty and fright, thinking upon my song,
Though its kindred beauty here certainly did not belong.
“The keys of your redemption are well beyond your sight
Stand now to hear the names of the Warden of the Light.”

And as though this Warden knew the secrets deepest in my heart
He raised his hooded stare skyward and turned to depart.
But as my vision finally rested upon the welcomed haze,
A whisper from the darkness crept through its reds and grays.

Forming a word uttered once but resounding a hundred fold,
Reforming its meaning each time its echo was retold.
I heard the name of terror and the name of death and shame
The names of guilt and pleasure before the noise then that came
The sound of a weeping mother following a silenced cry
The prayers of a plagued nation being answered by a lie

The Warden’s name crumbled all hope I had left to claim;
Falling within myself, my terror turned to blame.
I could hear the pain of the morning weeping for my song;
I knew that by coming here I had done the morning wrong.

My lost sisters and lost brothers wept in the light of the dawn.
I heard all their tears, so distant, as my return was forgone.
My place among them was no longer my place to take.
The aberration, with admiration, would praise this mistake.

This pit seemed ruled by its warden and him by stolid guilt
In a kingdom cursed by shadows that he himself had built.
No child of man could have resisted this Warden’s guide
To reach this world of falsities, where his nightmares reside;

I saw others alongside me; writhing upward through the murk;
Laughing, howling; their faces twisted and their eyes berserk.
Shadows began to scatter as the Warden’s footsteps fell,
Out of sight, not out of mind; I surveyed my private hell.
“As you can hear Child of Morning, you are not the least bit friendless.
Here in my realm of brothers, your pleasures can be endless.
I can offer to you a place among us, where shadow rules the day;
Safe from your memories that have led you astray;
Accept and know the honor of being one among the few.
Feel comforted in forgetting all that you once knew.

I can see the fear hidden within your eyes, longing for your sunrise;
All here remember it well, but there is something you need to realize:
A song, of sunrise or otherwise, could never take the place
Of the knowledge or the power attainable in our embrace.
There can be no bounds or limits placed upon your name
If you’d relent of your worries and claim my name the same
Here with all who have chosen to look beyond their grave
To become the honored carriers of the soul of their servant’s slave.”

As I stood before the warden, I could not but help but be persuaded
That his conviction wasn’t lacking. yet his discourse did sound jaded.
Certain undertones to his voice bread distrust into my reflection,
And though he never commanded, I sensed calculated direction.

This caution gave rise to caution, and to weary defiance as well
As the warden turned to face me as if in an effort to dispel
Any remaining fears or qualms I might have to interject.
I knew my fears were worthy of both my trust and my respect

And before the Warden could speak further of the glory of his lies
I managed to find my voice and instilled it with all my torrent cries.
I lifted my head up high to speak and stared the Warden eye to eye;
Two fires burning within four forges meant to make or break his lie.
“I’ve heard your name and will face my sentence on my own,
If my ignorance has led me here, then I will be here alone.
I’ve see the price of your victory bartered for in shame,
You’ll stand now Warden of the Light and know my name.
A name devoid of your emptiness to bare only the vitality
Of a song sung now at last as witness to a dawn’s reality.”

The warden stood in silence as I gathered back my breath,
Stepping away from me as the mist turned black as death.
I then sang the Song of Sunrise as a testament to my name,
Then it echoed a hundred fold against the Warden’s shame.
“Behold the shadows creeping back into the seas.
The cold lifting high upon the waking twilight trees.
See gold dancing on the ripples of our river beds;
Sapphire blues lighting new skies above our heads.
Feel the warm stones upon your icy fingertips
Listen to the morning fully sprung from your lips.
Children! Sing your song wherever your rivers run,
Then in your darkest night, so behold the rising sun.”

My voice carried through darkness to others in the distance;
Their voices guided mine through sunlight’s faint existence.
A quick paced thunder gave its voice to the melody’s charm.
The storm swept the mist away and it tendrils gave alarm.

I beheld the Warden then turn wildly and saw morning’s essence wrap
Around his cloak to pierce his darkness and I saw his shadow snap
The Warden screamed as his keys burst brightly into flame
And leapt from him as he tossed them from his cloak and name.

My own words grew hot with the Warden as their fuel
And I left the Warden just these words to conclude his rule.

“Whether there is hope is not a matter that I question.
I care not either way for my song has be my confession.
I care not for you or any voice lost to laughter in your hell;
Born of your world or mine or from wherever it is they fell.”

The warden shrunk from the sunlight and sank into the ground,
Fleeing from the morning in the defeat by it he found.
And when it found the heart of the warden’s darkest slave
The mist freed it chains and sank to join him in his grave.

I found that no path needed walking once the darkness fled;
The world I sought to find formed itself around me instead.
So you of Morning seeking what after such darkness is done
Seek only the song your Children sing when beholding the rising sun
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