Baroness No More

I once was a beautiful maiden.
No one in my country was fairer than me.
A handsome baron asked for my hand and we traveled to his country.

I said I would bear him 12 sons but I had none.
Even a small female seed would not blossom in my womb.
The baron truly loved me. He had children with other women to give to me.

Dozens of little bundles wrapped in blankets like a box of sweet treats for me to choose.
I chose none. I thought a woman should not be forced to give up her child.
I gave them back to their mothers and allowed them to live in the palace.

Day and night I heard the patter of little feet.
No footprints came to my door.

Many of the children loved me.
I treated them as well as my own.
I saw a flash of their father in their many small reflections.

The prince glowed in their admiration.
He was a good father.

I tried to hide the sadness of my loss.
Sometimes when he came to me in the night.
He would find me sobbing.
I told him I had awoken from a terrible dream.
He tried to comfort me but I fained sleep.
Shortly he would leave me in solitude.

Tears trickled down my face staining my satin pillow until
I sunk into the deep velvet of night.
A sickness came upon me like none I ever had.
I took to my bed for I could not walk.
I saw somber women who walked around my bed,
Keeping watch day and night.
I cried out to them but they did not answer.

The doctor said that I had a high fever.
I lingered there for months in a dream between life and death.
Once I heard my doctor and my husband whispering about a baby.

I wanted to raise my fist in anger.
Here I lie in my sick-bed with my wilted womb,
Had my dear husband been with another woman and produced a child?
How could my beloved be so cruel.

I tried to turn my head away from him the next time he spoke to me.
But he cradled my brown fuzzy hair firmly in his hands.
He pressed his mouth against my ear.
“You are with child, my dearest.”

I cried, “No! You try to deceive me!”

“You have spawned another sweet breath.”

“In my delusion, you would have me call it my own.”
He shook his head.
His words were true.

A little flame had sparked months ago.
Strong the fire grew that suckled my brittle bones.

I implored one of the silent women standing by my bed,
“I have prayed all these years to be a mother.
Now I know it will be enough for me that she is born.
Let me just hold her once.
I shall let loose the cords that bind me to life.
I will not refuse the company of that dark suitor who has called so many times,
For my date with destiny whispers that soon I shall fall into his cold arms.”

The old woman reached into me.
She held my red beating organ in her knotted fingers.
“If your heart wills, so it will be true.”

I fell into a bed of clouds.
Shadows passed by.
Low, sad voices slipped into silence.
Time for me had no beginning or end.

One day a bright light burst into the room.
Hot daggers of pain shot through me.
My body rose up in waves of pain.
As they fell I reached for the shore.
Each time I was repeatedly tossed back into a jagged sea.

A bitter cup of liquid was placed against my mouth.
“Drink!” a loud voice commanded.

I tried to spit it out.
Large hands clenched my jaw.
I grudgingly swallowed.
The fingers relaxed their grip.

I felt a smoother, softer touch.
The hand of my beloved.
I moved my lips to kiss his flesh.

“Rest now my lovely,” he whispered.
“When you awake we shall be a happy family.”

I slipped into a warm brown darkness, dreamless.
I floated to a waiting place and dwelled there.
Suddenly, my eyes opened.
A dark film covered the room.

I moved my hand down to pet my blossoming bud.
Horror horror I was hollow,
Life flowed out of me.
Sticky red gobs clung to my thighs.

I listened for the smallest peep.
Stone silence froze my ears.

My baby?

I mewed more like a helpless kitten than a protective mother cat.

“She is here my darling, just resting, waiting to be with her mother dearest.”
Arms moved quickly to prop many pillows under my fading body.
I smelled her before I could see her, Oh sweet baby mine!
They placed her below my arm in a pretense that I could hold her.

She opened her eyes and fixed her stare on me.
“I am your mother,” I announced.
She would not move her eyes away.
Did she know in a blink that I would be gone?

My husband spoke.
“Such a beauty, she looks like you.”
Is this good I wondered.
Will my image curse or comfort him?

His words rushed in an eager stream.
“Now you will get better.
Indeed what a happy family we will be.”
His words drifted pass my ears.

My daughter lifted up her finger.
“Good bye, mother.”

“Good bye my precious daughter.”

I floated off the bed.
Standing for a moment, I watched my sad lover.
He clutched his hand to my crumbling corpse.

The doctor whispered, “It’s time to let her go.”
A nurse took the little bundle who fussed noisily now.

The doctor led my husband to the door.
I touched his cheek. His eyes filled with sudden hope.
“Dearest have you not left me after all?”

I reasoned with lingering thoughts still left behind.
Perhaps I should stay for a while.
Comfort my beloved husband in ghostly fashion.
Watch over my daughter’s cradle just until I knew she was secure.

A yellow light appeared.
Within I saw a young man garbed in a blue robe.
“Surely, you come to call on another,” I said
“I’m expecting death at my door.”

A voice spoke though his mouth did not move.
“I am not death but eternal life.”
“Come with me daughter and you shall be barren no more.”

Now I am a beautiful tree.
Golden fruit blossoms from my leaves each year.
It is said throughout the land,
that any woman who cannot conceive
Will have a child within nine months of eating the fruit I bear.

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