The Ebon Pearl

When vestal Earth was yet unsoiled and human beings yet unspoiled,
Out from the void and far beyond, twin souls were sent to form a bond.
Two such spirits roamed the land until they reached the virgin sand
And, led by forces still unknown, sought for a bond to call their own.

Their youthful step was firm and long for, hand-in-hand, they could be strong,
But they knew of their destiny...together they'd not always be.
But then again, the Fates would smile, allow them time, once in a while,
To share a life of love unbound, conditioned that their bond be found.

The waves were shallow by the shore, they searched, but did not know what for,
Until they spied in one small swell the twinkling of an oyster shell.
They slowly sank upon the beach, the oyster shell within their reach.
He plucked it from the swirling sand and cradled it within his hand.

She lightly brushed its scalloped frill...it opened of its own free will
And, in so doing, did unfurl a priceless, flawless ebon pearl.
"We must return it to the sea, this symbol of our unity,
But swear to me by stars above you'll not forget it marks our Love."

The shell closed gently, edge to edge, as she swore she would keep the pledge.
"I know the time has come to part, but you will live within my heart."
The shell sank slowly from their view. He vowed, "I will remember you,
And you will know that you are mine each time you see our bonded sign."

He stroked her long and curling hair. "What we both have is something rare,
And you must know it will live on long after life on Earth is gone."
Their figures wavered in the mist. She touched the lips that she'd just kissed.
And as he gave a last embrace, they vanished, leaving not a trace.

The Age of Chivalry was born, allegiances to Ladies sworn.
The Black Knight had no claim to fame and never once revealed his name.
He came one day to joust and fight, his jewelled sword was polished bright.
The banner, of his own design, read: "Thee is Mine and I am Thine."

He saw her through the milling crowd and she was graceful, tall, and proud.
The sunlight played within her hair. His heart would know her anywhere.
She turned and caught his lingering glance, toward him slowly, she advanced.
Her thoughts reached out and touched his own. "Where is the sign by which you're known?"

She frowned and gently stroked her head, "What were those words that I just said?
I feel as though we've met before. My mind's eye sees a sandy shore...."
He took her hand and kissed its palm as wonderingly she took his arm.
"I feel a great affinity existing betwixt thee and me."

"As well you should, my love so true, for I have searched this realm for you.
Despair was aching in my chest. 'Til you were found I'd know no rest,
And now the sacred bond I'll show so you will have no doubts and know
The reason why I'm here this day and from your side I will not stray."

His banner caught the fluttering breeze; together, they sank to their knees.
Her eyes grew bright when she espied the symbol on the banner's side.
Above his motto, brave and bold, emblazoned on the Cloth of Gold,
Surrounded by an Azure swirl...one perfect shimmering ebon pearl.

"My heart is torn twixt joy and pain. You came upon this vast domain
And knew that you would find me here. How could I fail to sense you near?"
"Please do not fret...it matters not. 'Twas not your fault that you forgot.
Let us not waste the given time. The bells of parting soon will chime."

"But 'ere we hear that mournful knell, with happiness and love we'll dwell.
Your honor, stalwart I'll defend until our days come to an end."
She gazed into his eyes of blue, "The lives we have are far and few,
But this I swear by stars above, next time I'll know you are my love."

The Earth was racked with war and strife and small regard for human life.
The battlefields were scarred and worn with bodies mangled, maimed and torn.
The young Marine was close to death; his body shuddered with each breath.
The medics hurried past the sight. He would not make it through the night.

They had no time to spare for one who'd been so butchered by the gun.
They shook their heads and whispered low, "Sometimes the dying is too slow."
But still he struggled to survive as though he knew she would arrive
To help him through his darkest hour. This faith became his greatest power.

He threw the blankets from the cot; his body burned with fever hot.
The medicines brought no relief. The time he'd left was all too brief.
He heard the sound of rain begin and wished for it to cool his skin.
His lifeblood now was ebbing fast and not much longer could he last.

His weary soul cried out for rest; his heart beat weakly in his chest.
He sighed, "I long to leave this place, but first I yearn to see her face!"
The tired nurse from slumber woke and heard the words that no-one spoke.
She quickly donned her uniform and hurried out into the storm.

Her footsteps flew with frantic haste; she knew there was no time to waste.
She ran and prayed a silent prayer: "Please wait until I can get there."
Lost deep in pain, he tossed and turned. His eyes, it seemed, like fire burned
As restlessly they roamed the room and then he smelled her sweet perfume.

She swiftly came up to his side. "Thank God I'm not too late," she cried
And gently kissed his furrowed brow. "I'm here and won't desert you now."
The tears flowed down upon his cheek as desperately he tried to speak.
She said, "No need to say a word. Your heart has called, and I have heard."

How gratefully he took her hand and saw, upon the silver band
That was suspended from her wrist, amid the links of amethyst,
The ebon pearl of smoky hue: the symbol of their love so true.
"I told you last time that we met, the next time I would not forget!"

His trembling fingers touched its sheen; his face grew peaceful and serene.
Devoid of pain, he sweetly smiled. She cradled him just like a child,
As words of comfort she outpoured until, at last, he breathed no more.
She laid him down upon the bed and smoothed the hair upon his head.

Her colleagues wondered at her pain and gently asked her to explain
Why this Marine had made her cry when she had seen so many die.
The tears she shed were sad to see, but she implored, "Don't pity me,
You could not hope to understand. He wasn't just another man!"

She turned back to his lifeless form and kissed the lips still soft and warm.
"Though you are dead, you are not gone. In me your memory lives on.
Our love transcends all time and space and it can never be erased.
Our hope is great; our faith is strong. Together we are never wrong."

The woman languished in the cell, condemned to death; condemned to hell.
Although the words she spoke were truth, of innocence she had no proof.
"Hanged by the neck till you are dead." The verdict filled her heart with dread.
She swore that she had told no lie but yet, she had no alibi.

That she had sinned, she would admit, but murder she did not commit.
Her eyes were brimmed with bitter tears as she recalled the wasted years.
Yes, she'd been selfish, proud and vain and, sometimes even inhumane;
Her time pursuing pleasure spent. Was it too late now to repent?

They'd offered her a final meal. The very thought had made her ill.
"Then will you, at the very least, take comfort from the prison priest?"
The fatherly old guard had said, but she had merely bowed her head.
She gazed upon the clouded moon and knew they would come for her soon.

She heard the creaking of the door and cast her eyes upon the floor.
She bit her lip and deeply sighed. No matter what, she would not cry.
Then suddenly it seemed, time ceased and she was filled with inner peace.
She heard him say, "Leave us alone. This woman needs time to atone."

She turned and looked into his eyes. "I know you even in that guise!"
"And did you think that I'd not know my dearest one who's sunk so low?"
She threw herself upon the bed. "I'm innocent, despite what's said!"
"Did you think I'd not know that too or that I'd think the worse of you?"

She looked upon his kindly face, so full of love, so full of grace,
And said, "You bring serenity by simply being here with me.
I can go on now unafraid and pay the price which must be paid.
It is enough to know that you believe in me the way you do."

"I will be with you at the end. On that you know you can depend.
But even now, the time grows near when they will take you out of here,
And if I could, I'd turn back time, erase all traces of this crime,
But that is not within my power so I'll stay 'til your final hour."

His eyes gazed lovingly at her. She said, "You are my comforter;
For with your love, I can now swear that there is nothing I can't bear."
As silence came upon the cell, they heard the tolling of the bell.
She said, "I'm glad the time has come. I find this life too burdensome."

He felt the tears upon his cheek. "I should be strong, but I am weak."
He took the Bible from the chair and opened it with some despair.
"I'd offer words, but none appear to be the ones we want to hear.
I'd talk of love, but can't display all that I truly wish to say."

How tall and proudly she did stand. She said, "My love, I understand.
This time, it wasn't meant to be. Please don't rebuke yourself for me!"
The door creaked open like a sigh. "The time has come to say goodbye.
Walk with me now into the night. Your are my one true guiding light."

He followed her into the hall, where dim lights flickered on the wall,
And handed her a rosewood box with tiny fluted golden locks.
The box was heavy in her grasp; she slowly raised the shining clasp.
He said, "I wish for this to be the last thing on this earth you see."

Two plain and simple oaken sticks were shaped into a crucifix
Which hung upon an antique chain of silver, liquid as the rain.
Within its center, there she saw, held by a wooden eagle claw
Which had been carved exquisitely, a polished pearl of ebony.

She pressed it closely to her breast, her heart now pounding in her chest;
She heard him praying close behind and to her fate became resigned.
They cut her lifeless body down. He carried her to hallowed ground,
Fought back the tears and bit his lip to see the cross still in her grip.

He neither asked nor wanted aid to bury her within the shade
And shelter of the gazebo where she could see the flowers grow.
The cross he buried with her too and whispered, "This I vow to you,
The next time that we share a life we shall be joined as man and wife."

The couple, wed that afternoon, refused to take a honeymoon.
Instead they hurried off that day to their own special hideaway.
They'd built the home with loving care, used every cent they'd had to spare
And relished in their youthful scheme...a place to live and love and dream.

Some said they were not old enough, they'd separate when times got rough,
But they knew deep within their heart that come what may, they'd never part.
As children they had met in school. She'd laughed each time he'd played the fool
And he had loved her even then, when she was nine and he was ten.

He'd told her, "I will marry you," and she had giggled...young girls do.
He'd tried to kiss her on the cheek but all he made her do was shriek.
Their friendship flourished through the years. They shared each other's hopes and fears.
He'd been there when her mother died and held her close each time she cried.

When she had turned sixteen years old, he'd offered her a ring of gold.
Its diamond small, but nonetheless, she'd taken it with happiness.
Now, two years later, man and wife, together they would make a life.
His gentle kiss grew firm and strong. "I've yearned for this so very long."

The decades passed, time quickly flew, but still their love was fresh and new.
They sat upon the porch outside. For sixty years, she'd been his bride.
His raven hair was streaked with grey as he watched grandchildren at play,
But in her eyes, until the end, he'd be her lover and best friend.

Although he saw her wrinkled skin, his image of her lived within,
Where she was young and never old, where she was his to have and hold.
Where she would be eternally the light his eyes would always see.
Where he would be her passion's fire, the one she always would desire.

He smiled and took her by the hand, supported her so she could stand,
And said, "There's something you should see to mark this anniversary."
She nodded then, as though she knew the purpose of this rendezvous.
She glanced up quickly at his face...a look that still made his heart race.

Their tiny bedroom, clean and neat, felt cool after the summer heat.
He reached behind him, closed the door, and opened up the dresser drawer.
He felt her presence close behind. She said, "I do not need the sign,
For I have always known that we are twin souls forged in harmony."

"This cabin saw our children born and sheltered us from every storm.
I want you now to know that I don't wish to live if you should die."
Her words stirred something deep inside as, unashamed, he quietly cried.
"My love, the moment you are gone, there'll be no will to carry on."

"Then leave the keepsake in the drawer. I've seen it several times before.
I do not want to see it now for I know what it is somehow.
It is a jewel from the sea...the bond which links both you and me.
It is our own unique love token, a tie that never shall be broken."

"I'll always keep you safe from harm," he told her as he took her arm.
"My gallant knight on sturdy steed, you'll always be the one I need."
They walked outside into the sun. Their children joined them, one by one.
Grandchildren gathered round their knees as they strolled slowly through the trees.

They marvelled at their children grown and marvelled how, when all alone,
They still had so much they could share after the years of wear and tear.
The children gone, they reminisced. He held her hand and stole a kiss.
Her head upon his shoulder lay as they watched Night chase Day away.

He leaned and whispered in her ear, "It's time we were in bed, my dear.
Tonight the need is very strong to hold you tight and hold you long."
She playfully slapped at his arm, "You always could turn on the charm."
"And you will always be my girl, my dark-skinned, brown-eyed ebon pearl."

The Age of Man was said and done, the Moon had crashed into the Sun.
The Earth was grinding to a halt at the Elements' onslaught.
The stars had lost their fiery glow and Chaos soon would overthrow
What little sanity was left. All hope and faith were now bereft.

The lightning forked across the land revealing, on the ashen sand,
Two figures huddled side by side who'd come to face the final tide.
Their movements slow, they almost crept. Weariness showed in every step.
The sea-spray filled their eyes with salt but steadfast, they refused to halt.

The shoreline stretched on endlessly. The waves boiled in an angry sea
And crashed upon the rocks so black. The wind blew hard to drive them back.
They stumbled, fell, then rose again, soaked to the skin by pouring rain.
Their stride no longer firm or strong but, hand-in-hand, they labored on.

It seemed as though they'd never reach the breakers which engulfed the beach
With pounding force, out of control, but still they struggled toward their goal.
About their feet, the water tried to suck the strength from every stride.
This was the lasting test that they would have to pass to find their way.

Collapsing at the water's edge, they kissed to seal their timeless pledge
And, finally unclasping hands, began to dig beneath the sands.
Their hearts were gripped with icy fear to think that they'd not find it here.
The tears were coursing down her face: "Perhaps we've come to the wrong place."

He acted like he had not heard...not listened to a single word.
His face was dour, he darkly frowned and deeply dug into the ground.
A clap of thunder broke the spell, they spied the buried oyster shell.
His tired body softly sighed for now their love was undenied.

Her fingers stroked its surface smooth, the sea had pounded-out each groove.
She knew that it would open for, had it not done so years before?
They saw the edges inch apart, her heart reached out to touch his heart.
His soul sought out and found her own. It surely held the sacred stone.

The joy she felt, she could not hide as she showed what was there inside;
The token they had prayed to see...a perfect pearl of ebony.
"This means we'll not be parted now for we have kept the hallowed vow
And never once did we forego that bond we made so long ago."

"Together we walked on this Earth the day that Love was given birth.
Together through eternity, we'll watch it slowly cease to be.
So now, as this Earth nears its death, undying love with dying breath
Is ours to have, to hold, to share...and where you are, I will be there."

They saw the dark cloud from on high begin its descent from the sky,
Foreboding as continuous night. She held the pearl, he held her tight
And when the haze had cleared again no trace of what had been remained.
Destructive Nature took revenge upon the ruined world of men.

The mountains, crumbling to dust, became the Earth's sarcophagus
And turned the once and fertile womb into a mournful sterile tomb.
But as the sea rolled o'er the land, it washed up on the barren sand
An oyster shell with scalloped curl, which held one flawless ebon pearl.

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