“When at last the blackness passed, Sam looked up and shadows were about him… He was still in the same place, and still his master lay beside him dead. The mountains had not crumbled nor the earth fallen into ruin.”
The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien (chapter: “The Choices of Master Samwise”).

by Notabluemaia

Fallen, betrayed, onto
Bitter cruel rock,
Pitying lamb,
To slaughter false led.

Poisoned blood stains
His bared white throat
Beneath glinting evil chained.

Life ebbs fast;
The anguished scream
Freezes in his breast.

Bravery wields
Its own fierce sting,
Dauntless at love’s behest.

With failing strength,
By will alone,
Desperate to know
The waged battle won,
He arches, twists,
Strains to see…

But bright eyes blur blue to grey,
Cannot tell him who holds sway.
Hazed vision dims,
And fades away…

Collapsing back, midst crags stretched high,
Palm upturned to darkening sky,
His out flung hand, still and small,
Beckons with silent plea.

The victor returns,
Finds… and falls,
Plummets to black despair,
Knees sheered on gravel,
Heart seared by dread,
He sees what he cannot bear:

Beloved eyes, like near-dawn skies,
Agonized, as a lightless sunrise,
Fixed on their hope and fear.

Defy crumbling ruin
To chafe and warm,
Clasp and cradle to chest;
But cold lingers chill
In unmoving form,
Denying all hope’s requests.

Fragile cords binding
Endurance to life,
Frayed thin by vicious
Fang, burden, and knife:
No sign to comfort the victor’s strife,
In grief left alone
To the Quest.

Soft lips shaped ‘Sam,’
‘Round last breath’s call,
Answered, unheard, ‘Me dear…’
Now, lying in arms,
He can no longer know
The caress of these
Heartbroken tears.

* * *

August 2003

Author’s Note: In August 2003, New Line Cinema released several pictures from The Return of the King, one of which (from preview on The Two Towers, Extended Edition) became the haunting teaser poster of Frodo, beautiful and anguished. It was not clear from which scene the picture derived, but in the raw photograph it appeared that all life had drained from Frodo’s eyes. I wondered if this might be in Cirith Ungol, and, in a typical stroke of Peter Jackson’s dramatic brilliance, Sam would find Frodo lying still and spider-stung, his expressive eyes open, unseeing… telling the film audience immediately why Sam believes what he believes…

In almost forty years of loving this book, I had never imagined that Frodo’s eyes might be open; the thought and the poster stunned me, and I had to write catharsis. What started as a drabble (100 words) evolved to a terse poem: Ruin.

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