Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ballad of Plum, Chapter Five (Finale)


CHAPTER FIVE—The Tree and the Queen



Her Majesty glowered down from her throne,

No trace of warmth in her eyes, only malice.

Her skin was gray and withered like shriveled stone,

Her aura of hatred hung heavy in the palace.



She smiled as the young girl walked up,

Plum, of sinewy limb and pink blossom hair,

Once a tree, born of Her Majesty’s seed of luck

Now a lady, far more gentle and fair.



“Your Majesty,” Plum said, “I understand

That we are of the same soul, you and I.

You have been burning and ravaging the land

To find me, so to your wishes I’ll comply.

But you must stop burning the forest, leave the trees be.

Forgive the Karmaburra, he meant you no harm.

For my friend Fire-eater, perhaps leave a piece of me

For him to burn for food, maybe a leg or an arm.

And once your good fortune has been restored,

Please share it with your people, who need it more.”



Her Majesty’s voice thundered and boomed,

“How dare you talk down to me!

I dictate all fates, blessed or doomed,

You were a mistake! I am Her Majesty!

I could burn down the whole forest if I desire,

What do I care for your useless old trees?

I can clear it to further build my empire,

Or just destroy it, merely because I please.

I’ll roast that Karmaburra on a spit

That traitorous bird will make nice tender meat.

The fire-eater I’ll lock away in a damp dark pit

Until he wastes away, with no fire to eat!



And share my good fortune? With others? Never!

It’s mine, let the world rot for all I care.

I have no fear of plagues, or disasters, or whatever.

If the world ends for others, I’m not going anywhere.

That’s exactly what I’ll permit, if you don’t give

Your heart to me this instant! Don’t you dare cry.

It is only important that I, Her Majesty, live.

You are only a plum tree, who cares if you die?”



Plum plucked something from behind her ear.

“I am sorry you are so cruel and cold.

But before you eat me, I have something here

That may give you good luck, so it’s been told.

It is the only fruit I have ever produced,

One single plum, a bit unripe and small.

Plums bring good fortune, and you could use

The luck more than I, after all.”



And Her Majesty, thinking this was her prize,

Snatched up the plum and ravenously ate.

But Plum, taught be the old trees so wise

Knew that the tiny plum held her fate.

For the plum was not her heart, nor her soul,

But the flesh that protects the seed, the future.

The essence that makes good fortune whole:

The human capacity to care and nurture.

For good fortune comes to those who claim it,

Who believe in goodness and are willing to share.

Bad luck clings to those who blame it

And dwell lonely in its cursed cloak of despair.



So Her Majesty, once the Fortune Queen,

Having tasted the fruit of hope and kindness

Remembered the feeling of bestowing good luck

On others, and was freed from her blindness.

And Plum reached out, her fingers entwining

Around Her Majesty, then her arms and hair,

Until the two came together, their beings binding

Until a great strong tree was rooted there.

And it broke through the castle roof, growing

Its branches bursting forth a plethora of plums

The people looked on in amazement, knowing

That there must be a plum on that tree for everyone.



So the plums were gifted, one to each subject

And good luck returned to heal the glum.

They doused the forest fires, so they could protect

The old trees, in honor of goodhearted Plum.

The fire-eater guarded the plum tree the rest of his days,

From the lightning of storms and wily fruit thieves.

The Karmaburra flew the world to spread this story

To everyone, like you, who willingly believes.

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