3. I Made a Wager Once With Death

From A Thread of Scarlet (2024)

I made a wager once with Death,
a gamble on a game of chess:
That if I won, my life would be
unending for eternity.

And sizing up my humble frame,
Death smiled a bit, agreed, and came,
and sat down just across the board,
and played his move without a word.

So I pursued my strategy,
and all was going well for me,
but by and by I came to know
I could not beat my cunning foe.

A Friend approached, a loving hand,
that waving, bid me stop, and stand,
and let him harvest as his own
the seeds I had unwisely sown.

This Friend my game continued on.
He sacrificed the queen’s best pawn,
then bishop, rook, and even knight —
I wondered why he didn’t fight!

And after painful hours had passed,
I saw my Friend was caught at last:
with horror that made heaven ring,
I saw my friend had lost the King.

My mind was racing to perceive
what strategy he might conceive;
some lose a pawn the win to bring,
but who would sacrifice the King?

Then squealing with satanic glee,
Death claimed the rights of victory.
He took my Friend up by the hand,
and forced him at a pole to stand.

Now whipping, scourging, wailing rage
Death poured upon the friendly Sage,
and forced down on his lovely head
the crown of thorns until he bled.

And lifting up that tree Death cursed
the One who held my hopes at first.
There hanging, life became a thread,
and soon my Faithful Friend was dead.

Through tears that burned I cast my gaze
back toward the board, those final plays,
but saw in pure astonishment
the pieces stirring, moving, sent.

And as I watched and Death stood by,
the board reversed before my eye,
and all my faults in strategy,
were fixed in ways I couldn’t see.

Deep magic from before the Dawn:
the game played back, undid the wrong.
The table stone itself did crack,
and all was lost was flowing back.

So opens up my Friend his eyes,
and roaring out he runs, he flies,
and grabbing Death with both his hands,
He flings him down to Underlands.

Then turning glorious face to me,
at last I see his strategy:
that when he sacrificed the King,
He offered Life to everything.
Composed February 22, 2024, 7:30 a.m. by Mark Feezell / DrFeezell.com
Included in Feezell’s poetry collection A Thread of Scarlet (2024)
Dedicated to the Public Domain (CC0 1.0) 2024

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Image: Ohia Lehua Tree with Flowers (DSC09117)

poetry, A Thread of Scarlet (2024)