The words were there within me
In the core, the secret storehouse
Before my lips moved
called me a steppe falcon
And notched your bow.
The subtext was steel
The last leaves of summer falling
Many mailed feet on the woodland road
From Danzig to Novogorod
That tumble heavy on the moss
Their feet are pilgrims, tramping as they come
Their tabards monochrome
A Teuton’s foot on Slavic soil.
The word rang out in the forest tongue
And the world was fast with war.
How can I unsay my heart, love?
How can I take back the word?
It would be easier for those chained feet to undo each step.
Simpler, to lay each leaf
Back in the boughs of silent trees.
Gabriel Olearnik studied medieval history at University College London. He is currently an attorney and practices corporate law.