The Empress (III)

Encountered in her elemental majesty, charged
with power as keeper of her undisputed realm,
she is aware, wide hazel-eyed and shapely
with – and to – a patient unaverted gaze,
a singular white rose who quickens health
or else confronts a tangled bush of thorns;

Her empathy disguises rapier probes
against my layers of weathered home-made armour
to turn its open flanks and fixed defences –
past its alloys hammered flat and worn with age
but still of service in a world which had borne
witness to the final denials of good faith –

She sees within that weakness opportunities
for strength, to be leveraged in turn
by those who have the will to change
or join with her in purpose at the water’s edge,
the crystal-clear caldera lake revealed
when she enacts the piper’s changeling role

In which she sings those siren songs most naturally:
her anthems of acceptance found inside the heart,
her ballads of anxiety imagined beyond safety,
her canticles conceiving hope and change and
our chorales of alchemy that build resilience / out of fear,
their practised choruses cadenced in repeat:

“Dive in, dive in!
Do not avoid the danger:
Perception plays you false”

Now having taken arms beneath her badge –
“gules, an eagle spread argent, crowned or” –
captivated and unguarded / I wonder, lese-majesty:
What chords does she still cherish / when she sleeps?

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