"Promise": A poem

A few months ago I wrote this rambly, confusing poem-story-thing, and I thought I might as well share it here. Enjoy.

                                                      

Born to a working-class family
In a cramped cottage in an overcrowded city
Draughty windows
Creaky floorboards
Second-hand clothes
That was what made up her childhood.
Words whispered by her parents to their only child,
“Promise us that you’ll grown up and you’ll do us proud.”
She promised.

Started work at a factory
Just another nameless face in a crowd of others
Long hours
Low wages
Dull work
She never stopped dreaming of something more.
Words her father told her late on winter’s night,
“Promise if you get the chance you’ll find a better life.”
She promised.

Plagues came to the city
They left her alone, but not her parents
Coughs and sickness
Ending lives
Tears that flowed
Her family’s lives slowly fading to nothing.
Words her mother told her, while their eyes were filled with tears,
“Promise me that once I’m gone you’ll go somewhere far from here.”
She promised.

Left the city of her birth
She went to the palace in search of work
Lavish tapestries
Exquisite meals
A different world
The king and queen, so majestic and wise.
Words commanded by the most authoritative voice,
“Promise that you will serve us, not many get this choice.”
She promised.

Started her work as a maid
Worked hard, long hours, but she was happy
The kindly cook
Naughty stable-boys
Chatty maids
They became her closest friends.
Words pronounced around a fire, all of them talking happily,
“Promise that you’ll stay with us, we’ll be your second family.”
She promised.

The king and queen had a daughter
A girl her age, a beautiful princess
Shiny chestnut curls
Eyes like emeralds
Skin like ivory
But most enviable of all was her fearlessness.
Words accompanied by half a wink and the most beautiful smile,
“Promise me you’ll stick around; I’ll make it worth your while.”
She promised.

Days passed, turned into months
Years went by, her happiness never stopped growing
Sun-drenched summers
Cosy winters
Hand in hand
They called it their secret that no-one knew.
Words whispered across a pillow in the darkest point of night,
“Promise me you’ll love me until the day you die.”
She promised.

Happiness never lasts for long,
Plagues affect workers and royals alike
The emeralds dimmed
Ruby lips paled
Ivory grew flushed
But she never flinched in the face of death.
Words rasped through the broken voice of a life that’s slowly falling,
“Promise me you’ll stay by me until my end comes calling.”
She promised.

Couldn’t face the funeral
Nobody could understand her grief, not really
Silent tears
Choking grief
Left alone
She knelt by the grave in the pouring rain.
Words whispered quiet enough that no-one else could hear,
“I promised you I’d always love you;
Though you’re gone, I’ll keep my word.”
She promised.

Left the palace, went back home
She has changed, the cottage where she was raised has not
Facing the future
Haunted by memories
Alone and friendless
Here in the city nobody cares.
Words cried to the heavens, a desperate prayer,
“Promise me, promise me that things will soon change for the better.”


Her prayers answered
She was woken by crying; on her doorstep
Wrapped in a blanket
Wrinkled skin
Huge grey eyes
What causes a mother to abandon her child?
Words not spoken aloud, yet spoken all the same,
“Promise me you’ll love me and you’ll raise me as your own.”
She promised.

Not her child, but still her daughter
She saved the baby’s life, but the baby saved her too
Fairies and princesses
Pretty dresses
Hopes and dreams
Children are the greatest gift.
Words spoken from a little girl to her mother,
“Promise me that no matter what, you’ll always be there.”
She promised.

Her child was clever, she was ambitious
She would accomplish things that her mother never could
Open textbooks
Long study hours
University scholarship
Stood by the cottage’s door with her bags.
Words spoken through tears of pride to a mother saying goodbye to her baby,
“Promise me that whatever comes, you’ll always be here to support me.”
She promised.

Years have passed, the city’s changing
The world is no longer what it was when she was young
More opportunities
Fairer pay
Safer housing
Everything has changed now, for the better.
Words laughed by carefree grandchildren as they play and run,
“Promise us you’ll tell us about your life when you were young!”
She promised.

Moved into her daughter’s home
She wanted to be close to the only family she had
Caring family
Fresh country air
Joy and contentment
At long last she found her peace.
But the end is coming, and she accepts it
She’s had a long life, mostly fulfilling
She prefers to remember the good, not the bad
Her daughter
Son-in-law
Grandchildren
Crowd by her bedside, tears in their eyes
They know this is goodbye.
“All my life I’ve kept my promises, now it’s time for you to keep yours.
Promise me you’ll always remember me, even when I’m gone.”

They promised.

                                                           

-IndigoSky

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