The Old Vintner

The vintner pays a visit to
his subterranean storage grounds
confounded by the visions playing
wistful in his blind mind’s eye.
And I, ever the chronicler,
of this old man’s collective woes
did throw myself into his shoes
to follow where he goes.

Down, down, down
the cobbled stair he slowly did descend
‘Now, now, now,’ I dared to ask,
‘I wonder where the vintner old
believes that this will end.’

Descent, to me, the watcher of
all tragedies and matters grim,
has always seemed to be a loveless
act of melancholic sin.

The vintner pressed on through the dark,
no warm lamplight to guide his way;
only a cold, white hand outstretched
to press upon the stonework, grey.
Landing crooked on hard-packed earth
a breath escaped his weary lungs,
diffusing in a sinewed mist,
the chilling tendrils wrapped and tugged.

For several long eternities
my hollow friend did travel on
in silence and in darknesses too dark
for even light to breach
‘Is this one too far gone?

‘Why oh why,’ I dared entreat,
‘what madness does this old man seek?’
As if in answer he did speak,
“The cask is here, the one true vintage–
utterly unique.”

A mournful chill ran through my bones
though bones do not comprise me.
A watcher rarely finds surprise,
though here, it seems, it found me.

The vintner then unsealed his prize,
hands trembling eager with wanton hope,
that this might be his sweetest yield.
Blind eyes a shield to the truth inside,
the one he’d strangled long ago,
and bound with some forlorn, old rope.

A blood-red wine did stain the lips
and drained the vintner dry
of all his own blood–what little remained–
and there it was that this man died.

This chronicler of ends of days
found time enough to pay its dues
to the overburdened sorrowed soul who
only wished to live again
the sun-filled, happy days of youth…

How sad it is that hope should die
here in the darkened, cold, brown earth.
Some memories are treacherous ties–
some fond, yet some devoid of
all and any lasting worth.

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