Returning, by Mary Soon Lee

First published in The Open Mouse

Through darkness,
King Xau rode with his guards,
changing horses at every way-fort–
hurrying the startled staff,
following them into the warm stables,
that smell of horse, of hay, of leather
as he helped tack up the horses–
his heart pounding as if time
were running out,
but the demon dead,
the kingdom safe.

Through freshening wind,
Xau rode with the eight men
who had shielded him
when he could not speak,
who’d woken him when nightmare wracked him,
when the demon called in his brother’s voice,
night after night–
his guards beside him,
then as now.

Under moonlight,
Xau rode, not quite himself yet,
wind drying his face.
Khyert dead.
Khyert, who should have been
riding beside him.
Xau rode,
home within reach;
his children, his wife,
the thought of them,
the need for them
driving him on.

 Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at

Posted on December 21, 2016, in Issue 19: Speculative Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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