Mary was the last to leave,
For the Fates had cut the weave
Of her mother, strong and fair,
Now with ochre in her hair.
Her family ties were naught but wind;
Ashes, now, boxed and binned.
Yet as she watched the grave that day,
Alone but for a sleeping jay,
Mary saw a man of old,
Bundled ‘gainst the winter cold.
He sat behind a great elm tree,
A gnarled hand upon a knee.
His coat made not of fur nor cloths,
But autumn leaves and scarlet moths.
His emerald eyes watched her bright,
Shining with an inner light.
Mary gasped and stepped away,
With a terror of the fey.
The old man smiled like morning dew,
Sweet blossoms of a wondrous hue.
A twisted root became his cane,
And with the hobble of the lame,
He made his way unto the grave,
And to the snowy mound he gave
A small and stunted maple seed
While chanting of a daughter’s need.
And then before her eyes it grew,
A maple tree of ruby hue.
The ailing man then met her eye,
Their conference ending with a sigh.
His leafy cloak of moths did fade,
And swift he vanished from the glade.
Leaving Mary standing under
A blood-red tree of ancient wonder.