Ballad of a Bastard

A snowflake brushes against her cheek

Then two, then three, then a hundred more,

Carefree, she saunters down the peak

Sings fables of rife histories and lore.

 

She rants about deceit and vengeance,

Disdains being wronged and misled,

With sparkling eyes and hair like the angriest blaze

Enough to raise mad visions in my head.

 

Takes my measure with the archest smirk

And proclaims being wild and free;

Strange, audacious, sinfully glorious –

All ungodly thoughts take a hold on me.

 

She provokes me with her wily ways –

Calls me a sad, ignorant boy,

Was she my captive or me hers?

I stumble and sink under her ploy.

 

Onward I trudge as a prisoner,

The veriest greenhorn who lost all his friends,

I adapt falsehoods to stay the rumors astir

To keep me walking till the tale ends.

 

I contrive for myself security and trust,

Make a fool of all but her,

Yet she beckons my timorous lust,

To her sanctuary and a thousand promises of wonder.

 

A kindling flame can burn the brightest,

A shadow can outlive the flame;

A bastard can ­have the luxury of choice,

But the wild and the free cannot be his to tame.

 

A peculiar thing to find passion in distress,

One loathes leaving it just so;

But choose I must for my brothers’ sake,

And all desires I must forego.

 

The course is set, the journey afoot,

The offenders ready and the plan made;

Yet how do I lie to those fiery eyes,

And walk back to days of blackness instead?

 

The betrayal is done, my love is lost,

I can feel her seething breath,

I corrupted her warmth into frost;

My treachery outdoes the damnedest death.

 

We toil to ignite the deadliest fire –

Wreak havoc and horror and blood and gore,

And I at the helm of it all,

Fearing yet yearning her form at my door.

 

Battles and wars were never my destiny

But that is how I am granted reverence,

Carried not on shoulders but on hearts of brothers,

Call it fate’s ironic deliverance.

 

The firelight has died, the room grown cold,

The rages of the Watch still ringing low,

But the loudest whisper that steals my sleep –

‘You know nothing, Jon Snow.’

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