The plunge towards Halloween, no matter how our fingernails scrabble at the granite walls as we slide, is inexorable. So here is another gothic offering from 2006, the year I scaled the Mountains of My Madness. This one was inspired by a painting by J.W. Waterhouse…
The crystal ball
Where has the seeress lost herself?
…In what relentless seas
Sails she, with helmsman sprite or elf,
…To seek elusive ease?
What worlds are cupped within her hands?
…And where her steady gaze
Falls, are there rich, exotic lands
…In sunlit ancient days?
Her lips that seem to wish a kiss,
…Her beauty gowned in red –
Is all her being wrapt in bliss,
…Or does she see the dead?
Lo, there! Her grimoire and her wand –
…Behind, a grinning skull –
Are spirits summoned to respond,
…Or are her senses dull?
What knowledge, what enlightenment
…Seeks she in realms arcane?
Beware, my sweet! All’s transient,
…Your loveliness will wane!
Whatever is the magic lore
…Whose secrets now entice
You through a dark and one-way door –
…You pay too high a price!
So lady, lay that art aside,
…Forswear your mantic ball
For mind’s health, beauty’s morningtide –
…Or, hazarding, lose all!