My daughters gone before me to the dark,
Dynastic sacrifices for a truth
Unbearable without this stranger’s mask
That mocks me with its pallor — was his Sign
Sent forth for you at last, two maids in yellow
Awaiting the embrace of their dread king?
Carcosa’s husk, a court without a king,
Lies echoing & hollow save for dark
Fumes rising from these guttered tapers. Yellow
No more with wholesome light, they died for truth
Made manifest among us by a sign
Denying life to all who dare unmask.
The voices of the Hyades still mask
My soul’s lost song, unsung for any king
Save he who comes, the sender & the Sign
Combined at last. Ring down this final dark
To round our play of ages in a truth
Bitter past bearing, venomous & yellow!
Our Dynasty has borne a taint of yellow
Since Demhe’s clouded depths lay clear, unmasked
Beneath the raw black stars. This phantom truth
Divides us from all others, save that king
Whose tattered mantle beckons from the dark
To each inheritor of his bleak Sign.
So many aeons passed without a sign
To guide us as Carcosa’s towers yellowed
From leprous marble shining in that dark
Behind the moon, till madness like a mask
Of saffron veiled us from ourselves. O King,
When I am dead, what tongue shall sing this truth?
Perhaps no living eye can know such truth
As Hali’s cloud-waves hid. Perhaps no sign
Is sent, but only shadows of a king
Lengthening like men’s thoughts, strange & yellow
Across this hall where I alone, unmasked,
Retrace my daughters’ footsteps into dark.
These eyes behold one final truth writ yellow:
Carcosa’s doom, a sign all mortal masks
Lie fallen to that King beyond the dark.
Ann K. Schwader’s most recent collection of dark verse is Twisted in Dream (Hippocampus Press 2011). She is a 2010 Bram Stoker Award Finalist. Her cosmic horror tale “Dark Equinox” is forthcoming in Searchers After Horror, ed. by S.T. Joshi (Fedogan & Bremer, 2014). Ann lives & writes in suburban Colorado. Her website is http://home.earthlink.net/~schwader/
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Story illustration by Dominic Black.