BY DR. AGONSON
There’s darkness there beyond the realm of sight
which men may feel on cold and wintry nights,
but none are oft to speak of what is seen
—for dread, they all know what he means.
He whistles softly while the far off storm
makes thund’rous cries within its cloudy form.
He’s to his task, and soon begins to dig
a pit to catch the spilt blood of his pig.
The creature squeals as he draws forth his knife,
but is silenced as he ends its short life.
Red rivers run and pool below his feet.
And soon it is a shadow he will meet.
It comes from yonder wooded hill,
a shapeless visage that would kill
the weakened heart or wearied soul
that sees the shade of ol’ Jim Cole.
Or so it seems, after it drank
of the swine’s offered bloody bank.
Color returns, and shape as well,
and so the two a moment dwell
to size the other up a spell.
“What business have ye with the dead?” said Jim.
“To know the day and hour nearing him,
to parley with whatever fay I will,
and bargain life from what might grant it still.”
“Dev’lish knowledge, yet have it all the same.
Be warned, I say, you’ll never win this game.
The day will be some three from morning light;
the hour will be the deepness of the night.”
“Yet will you take another’s son?
Might I exchange with anyone
his destined curse, his foul disease?
O be not silent to my pleas.”
“There are three days found in your hand,
and in each must you make this stand:
Another’s son brought to this place,
and murd’ring him, look in his face.
Can you this deed, your son you’ll save,
yet lacking one, he’ll to his grave.”