XVIII

REUNITED

 

As the oil-lamps defended against coming night,

Bill emerged from the church with a candle alight.

He walked with eyes ‘pon him to the edge of town,

to where a faceless man had bin hangin’ ‘round.

 

He said nothin’ to no one, nor felt that he could,

but recited in his head the words of a prayer.

He looked up at the body, set the candle on the wood

and said, ‘You shouldn’t be alone up there.’

 

Yet he was talking of the world above

and talking to Molly of Norman’s love.

Whether she would forgive him was anyone’s guess,

but Bill felt without doubt he deserved no less.

 

He had died for her, if not ‘til after the cause.

He couldn’t live without her, a terrible loss

that left him reeling from his guilt and his pain.

He could not rest ‘til he saw her again.

 

As the people edged closer and whispered and stared,

the flame burned brighter and suddenly flared.

Then it leaped from the candle to set alight the man,

and Bill briefly questioned his brilliant plan.

 

But they saw that the Swingin’ Man didn’t really burn.

Like the bush on the mountain, it would not be consumed.

And, slowly, the living torch began to turn

‘til they all could see Norman happily subsumed

by the spirit of his one true love,

a love that burned strong.

And Pastor Bill knew that he hadn’t judged wrong.

 

All saw Norman smile with tears sparkling in the fire.

His cleansing of salvation took his soul and body higher,

escaping from the gallows as the place that held him bound.

United now, the two souls rose up high above the ground.

 

Pastor Bill, he nodded, as the conflagration vanished.

And all around felt warmth in their souls

as the sins of all were banished.

 

They heard a horse announce itself from high above the town,

but this time The Dark Horseman just wasn’t coming down.

‘He ain’t coming back,’ someone said. ‘I guess Jimmy knew our fate.’

 

And Pastor Bill, with a secret smile, had no mind to set him straight.

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