Annual Poetry Contest
At the Museo de Ferrara
By Daniel M. Edmonds Deland
2006 Contest: First Place
The crowd around her bedside parted in reverential awe
To allow the Old Duke to painfully limp to her bedpost.
He stood beside the sweat-soaked, soft linen sheets,
Saw the fever raging around her tired, wrinkled eyes,
Saw the gray and white mixing in her long, fragile hair,
Heard the cruel pneumonia rasping in her aching lungs.
Leave us, he said quietly, and they all did, at once.
I brought your beautiful picture that Guillermo unveiled
The night of the great ball, that cool and perfect springtime
When we were both twenty, and bold, and very foolish.
Indeed? she whispered
I have caused it to be hung on the museums sunset end,
Where stands my smiling bronze statue the grateful citizens
Had cast my thirtieth year, the year I repelled the invading army
From the hated north, with my pitiful, rag-tag band of fighters.
I saved us all with my brilliance and my bravado that year.
Was I not brave, and handsome, and fearless, and daring, to you?
Yes, she rasped.
I had the workmen turn me this very morning, where I stand
Just inside the eastern door, and now we gaze upon
On anothers face as once they were, caught in perfection
By artist and sculptor at our very best, long, so long, ago.
Why? she gasped.
Always have I loved you, and now I always will.
All can see us as we were once, young, strong, and beautiful,
Looking there into each others perfect, ageless eyes.
All will see us and marvel that two so perfect beings
Could ever have existed together in this imperfect world.
We were never perfect, but the artists knew their arts,
And there we shall exist, forever, me loving you
And you loving me, in perfect perpetuity, my darling.
I am the Duke, my word is the law, and my wishes
Are a mandate that all here below must follow, forever.
So, we will smile each upon each, beautifully and endlessly.
Thank you, she said clearly, and died.
As did the Old Duke, soon after, but his inflexible, iron will
Prevails unto this day in that silent, spotless clean museum,
On the quiet, marble floor, on the sun-kissed plaster wall.
You may still see her shocking beauty, his valiant spirit,
Their serene, contented smiles, and how they gaze
Soundlessly across the centuries, each upon the other,
Still in love.