Every night, Tristessa howls at the moon.

"Oooooo, Oooooo, Oooo..."

Trailing off like the curling ends of her long black hair.

Her mother is mortified.

The neighbors, annoyed.

Finally, Enrique, the night watchman, takes a walk up the side of the little hill that she has reclaimed from the night and considers her own.

"Senorita, why do you howl?" he asks.

With her back still to him, she lifts her head and replies,

"Oooo, Enrique, it is because no one touches me.

It is because to no one am I the woman without whom there is no light."

Enrique looks down, absently digging the heel of his scuffed brown shoe into the blank dirt.

"You could marry.

Raise a child.

Go shopping.

Sleep each night beside your husband instead of out here in the cold."

She turns and raises her chocolate-brown eyes with their crescent moons to him and replies,

"I would go mad from the confinement.

They would have to call the constabulary to come and put me down."

The night watchman looks up at the sky, rubs the back of his neck with his good honest fingers and admits,

"I've already called them."

He gestures at the little dark houses nearby.

"The waking of dreamers is a serious thing."

Tristessa gives her head an unconscious shake.

Her hair is like a great dark bird folding its wings.

"Ooo, Enrique," she says in her hoarse, mournful, wounded voice.

"Do not be afraid, Senorita."

His voice is kind.

"They are fine men in handsome uniforms,

And the bullets they carry on their belts

Are filled with mercy."

"Oooooooooo,Ooooooooo,Ooooooooooooooooo," comes the heartbroken howling.

With her face turned up to the indifferent sky and her black hair reflecting every star,

She whispers,

"La muerte es la unica misericordia."


Last line: "Death is the only mercy."


Jannie Funster said…
Why?!? Life can be so unfair.

My fav lines: the description of his shoes, bulllets filled with mercy and her black hair reflecting every star.

Ah, but "everything is temporary anyway..."
Maude Lynn said…
Um, whenever she can get away with it, my daughter sneaks outside so that she can howl at the moon. Seriously.
Anonymous said…
Tristessa is a woman after my own heart. I love the last line: "Death is the only mercy."
Scarlet said…
Anything beats confinement. Tristessa sabe mucho.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Oh wow, this is totally amazing."The waking of dreamers is a serious thing." It is true - there is not another poet on the planet who can touch you. I obviously must apply myself seriously to your archive.
Mary said…
Some women just don't wish to be tamed! I very much enjoyed this tale.
Kerry O'Connor said…
The magic of your story-telling is your ability to infuse so much life into your characters in so few lines: names, heritage, tribulations and always the knowing humane voice of the poet.
Kerry O'Connor said…
Where did my comment go? This is the second time my words of wisdom have vanished!

What I noted was your magical ability as story-teller to infuse the tale with intense characterization in so few lines, their tribulations told with the knowing and humane voice of a poet!

PS. Love the pandas :)
Fireblossom said…
Sorry about that, Kerry! Because this is an older post, comment moderation is on.
Marian said…
bullets of mercy, whoosh. this is terrific.
i have to say that i am very happy that you no longer publish your words in the handwriting font. signed, Always Complaining That Shit Is Hard To Read On The Internets
hedgewitch said…
Love the line about her hair folding its wings like a great dark bird, and the eyes with crescent moons--a visual poem that deals with everything that can't be seen. Glad you took this one out and dusted it off for us.
Unknown said…
Great storytelling! Awesome verse...

I felt the horror of "I've already called them..." was like, "WHAT? Ohhh nooooo...."
Anonymous said…
Love this - you tell a great story, has a sort of mythic flavour to it.

Her hair is like a great dark bird folding its wings.

cosmos cami said…
Her hair is like a great dark bird folding its wings.

Seriously? What a line!

Beautiful lines in this and an intriguing story.
Kay L. Davies said…
"And the bullets they carry on their belts
Are filled with mercy."
I didn't see that coming. "I've already called them" didn't warn me.
Beautifully written, Shay, and I love her name.
Semaphore said…
So many tableux, so many questions. A thought-provoking composition.
Kateri said…
Sad and breathtaking and beautiful...all at the same time.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
NO ONE can tell a story like you. And no one can tell as MANY stories as you. You have an unending supply. Is your Muse hogging more than her share? Hmmmmm? :)
Margaret said…
I actually got a jolt when I read the line:

"I've already called them"

I see this vividly, her defiant silhouette, long black hair whipping about ... refusing to turn away from who she is.