The Hunter and The Hunted
And burns in noon day brightness;
And yours is brown and burnished and beautiful
(Even to the eyes of the vanquished.)
How many moons I have been enslaved,
I do not know
I am a servant here with gold pierced ears
And I never learned to read the scrolls
Not written on men’s hearts.
Your people take joy
In hunting the proud and free,
Of which I am a daughter
Though underneath the pinpoint of your stare,
I clinch my fists and keep my face downcast.
But in my soul,
I know you know
That I am running free beyond this desert,
Climbing mountains and wading streams
And fleeing from your dark and hungry eyes.
Silken veils and chains of silver,
They cannot make me cower at your feet
The voices of my fathers call out in my dreaming
Warn me of the darkness
Of your rivers and desires.
And yet, sometimes,
When moonlight falls,
And midnight breezes play their songs,
The harshness of the desert fades
And this cool oasis bids me stay.
But my heart is hard of hearing
And though it sways me,
I will not bend or break my vows
And so I serve you and I curse you
Through many watches of the sun and stars.
You walk alone tonight beside the river
Behind the rushes, I watch you go
Into the trees with their black blankets
You’re just a man, I see, without your armor
How tall, yet small and lonely you seem to me.
Running now with feet of fire,
I hide in shadow as I pursue your presence
Stalking you as you walk in night shade, unaware
Seeking what my soul seeks
With cold, unfeeling steel clutched in my hand.
I think how good it feels to run,
How sweet the night tastes on my homesick tongue,
How the tyranny of your beautiful people
Has spoiled the ancient purity of mine.
I will show no mercy (for none have you shown me)
Even as I danced for you in firelight,
Fed you from my finger tips in starlight
Toiled for you a thousand dawns of daylight
And never knew the tender touch of love.
Rising with the midnight moon,
A cry of anguish, startling as a storm
Keens and wails and stops me in my tracks,
Shakes me to the core in heart confusion,
Drops me to my knees upon the ground.
You lift your hands to Deity I know not
In a language I have not yet mastered,
And barely understand
Beyond the no’s and yes’s of my slave’s commandments
(For obedience cares not if you comprehend).
In breathless wonderment, we listen,
The Deity, the silent sky and I
To mournful pleas to be released from torment,
From longings of a heart, broken and torn
More puzzling still: My name upon your lips.
I can wait no longer, this I reckon
For soon your weakness will pass
And the man be gone and the tyrant arise
And I will be his slave forever
If freedom is my fortune, I will find it in your death.
Your head turns as I rush at you,
The silver blade gleaming, and a heart that pounds
With blood and fury and a thing so strange
That it trembles my upraised and uncertain hand
Glowing in moonlight as it falls upon your face.
You do not move, I do not move
And time stands still between us
A cry issues from a mouth and I swear I know not whose
The hunter and the hunted, caught in traps that they have laid,
I stand a victor looking down
Into your brown and hopeful eyes.
March 23, 09
2:20 a.m. © 2009
By The Rivers Dark by Leonard Cohen
the song that inspired this poem............