Poepi watched the boundary,
Where Islegrove, met forest trees.
Smith stood quiet, staring too,
For in that moment, then he knew,
Too long had it been, since their return,
To castle lands, and village burned.
And when they crossed the border line,
It would be just the second time,
The princess last had seen her land,
Debased from its fair visage, grand.
“I’m ready now” Poepi said,
And smith just smiled, nodding his head.
Holding her breath and clenching his hand,
Resolved and firm, she stepped to the land.
The ground felt good beneath her feet,
Through grey grass covered with sooty peat.
She knelt and felt the fallow earth,
Touching soil and smelling dearth,
Of any moisture or of life.
Instead, dust crud and seedless strife,
Amid wind’s wasted whistling wail,
Mourned her land’s long past betrayal.
And as she walked, she felt a chill,
As if the land remembered her still,
Something asleep here all these years,
Since that night they fled in fear,
Something waking with each step,
Reviving ties and binds that kept,
Its virgin beauty barely alive,
Something that nobody thought had survived.
“Islegrove remembers you.”
Blacksmith said. “I feel it too.”
And on his head, his hair fell down,
Growing a length and turning brown.
“Strength returns” and clenching his fists,
He threw down his staff, and breathed in mists.
To Poepi’s shock and full surprise,
Her hair grew too, and her eyes,
Glowed green and blue and green and blue,
With lashes longer and nails too.
To spying eyes a-watch from height,
As they had, past days and night,
The transformation was a sight,
Of regal princess and her knight,
Of which its masters, none yet knew,
And so to them the falcon flew.
Covering up from looker’s view,
Unsure of what was next to do,
Poepi and smith disguised themselves,
And went to rendezvous with the elves.
Crossing foothills and rocky slate,
Soon they saw the village gate,
Which was a tall and hewn stone wall,
Surrounding village, homes and all.
Out from the gate a road ran east,
Bustling people, carts and beasts,
Most of which bore loads of coal,
Others with ore and diamonds full,
And some merchant pans and pots,
Foods and fabric bolts in lots.
With these travelers, the two inserted,
So village guards were not alerted.
Once inside, they skulked around,
Laying low till sun went down,
Behind a stable and a church,
Waiting for sign of Willow and Birch.
Then they heard the whistles blow,
And minutes later cautious slow,
Two cloaked figures approached them near,
Black hoods over pointed ears.
“Come with us quick!” said Willow gladdened.
“Its as you promised” Birch quickly added.
And so all snuck to spot to gawk,
Where workers leaving ore mines walked.
And on one worker, blacksmith spied,
Her face set grim, her eyes set wide,
As if some spark of hidden pride,
Still flamed within her, deep inside.
Smith then smiled in memory:
“That is her, Persephony!”