In Time of War

And so we stayed, night after night lying awake

until the moons fell behind the blackened cypress,

and bats returned to their caverns having gorged

on the night air, and all remained still until the hour

of rising, when the headless woman was no longer seen

near the walls, nor a ghostly drum heard, nor anyone taking

the form of mist or a fiddler, and the box never opened

of itself, nor whispers and other sounds, no rustling

dress or pet ape trapped in a secret passage, but there was

labored breathing, and unseen hands leafing through

the pages of a visitor’s book, and above the ruins a girl

in white lace, and five or more candles floating

and someone saw a white dog bound to a nearby wood,

but there were no bagpipes or smiling skull,

no skeletons piled in the oubliette, and no one saw

the woman carrying her own severed head,

and there was, as it turned out, no yellow monkey,

no blood leaking from a slit throat

but there were children standing on their own

graves and there was the distant rumble of canon.