This poem came out of the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a beautiful photo prompt from moosl. It was sponsored by xjenavivex as part of the 2010 Holiday Poetry Sale. Happy holidays to everyone, and thank you!
I'm really pleased that I get to share this poem with you; I've been hoping someone would sponsor it. When I saw the picture prompt, I noticed that the vampire mourners seemed genuinely sad, not an emotion often attributed to standard vampires -- and there they were in an ancient, elegant, ruined place. So I wondered what kind of vampires they might actually be, and they turned out to be very different indeed. Again, this one isn't exactly horror because the vampires aren't violent (though one might count it as such for other content) so I tagged it "fantasy" as well as "horror."
The cemetery shines in the moonlight,
white snow draping the ground
and frosting the broken stones.
Gnarled oak trees scrabble at the sky
with their bare, black branches.
The walls and the columns are merely fragments now,
the cathedral fallen to rubble long ago.
Only a few narrow arches remain,
their apexes pointing at the frozen stars.
The marble crosses do not bother the mourners,
many of whom are older than the religion
that the crosses represent. There are no graves
as such, only names chiseled into stone.
There are no corpses here either,
simply ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
They carry the remains of their Eldest
in a little bronze urn embossed with mystic symbols.
There was no need for him to be destroyed.
He was a gentle creature, a sage,
a teacher of the young and newly made.
No violence had ever stained his sustenance
until the hunter pulled the purring girl from his grasp
and hammered a stake through his heart while she screamed.
The grieving vampires make their slow promenade
through the graveyard, sorrow falling
as cold and sharp as the snow. They will not fight.
They will not seek revenge. They were never made
for such things, and they value life too highly
to spill it in anger. It hurts them
when the humans make such accusations.
They scatter the Eldest's ashes into the tender hands of the wind
and watch the last of his magic flitter away into the night.
Some of those motes will find enlightened souls, and settle,
and in time call someone to turn the new one toward home.
For now, they must go and seek those sown on an earlier evening,
and hope that time and the world have not put out
the light of the moon in the younglings' eyes.
One by one they slip away into the woods, each holding
in their heart a flame of peace still sheltered from the coming storm.