The church yard is restless in winter shadow;
dying elms fret in a wuthering wind
beyond the wide hoar-frosted meadow,
whistling by headstones, cold as sin.
Then a raven croaks its grating chortle,
black eyes casting glances down
to where dark-clad people mourn a mortal,
who yielded her soul to Lucifer's crown.
One, a priest of tainted credence,
turns to face the mythic bird,
recalls his early years of grievance,
his childish pranks, the lessons learned.
He spies her headstone's pure white sheen,
“Here lies Emily. Peace at Last”,
and raising his eyes to the windswept scene
thinks: “No doubt, but my pain's never past”.
Forever haunted by a tragic torrent,
he re-lives the frightful sight anew:
young Emily, caught in the raging current,
no hope nor salvation; no rescue.
As a thin sun shines he remembers clearly
how he failed to heed her cries for aid,
ran from that awful place, paid dearly
for the fear his pounding heart betrayed.
She was plucked from the torrent by a braver man,
who became her life-long companion,
while the priest lamented his own life's plan:
endurance his bogus, his makeshift canon.
To his grief his ancient church resounds:
“We live our childhood in states of pleasure;
I am but a churchman, not Christ unbound -
no raven shall rob me of that treasure.”
Then “Emilyyyyyyyy.... ” echoes in the chancel pews
as he contemplates what he will refuse.