“Ruined Castle on a Lake,” William Leighton Leitch, 1881, WikiArt.

Cloud-shrouded on island heights, first visit
To ancient Ætherstone, Scottish medieval
Fortress, partially destroyed, stout outer
Walls rubble reduced, abandoned, time-lost.
What did I, Willow, expect to find? Gardens
Blooming in gathering sunlight, reflecting
Lake breeze-shimmering, winds whispering
At high-poised arrow slits? Yes, these and
More trouble-touched my eyes and heart.

Legend enchanted, dark decades unhinged,
Voices beckoned from turret tops, shadowy
Figures lurking on stairway spirals. Where,
When was I, here or yester-years when purple
Heather wind-danced ‘neath this commanding
Promontory. “Who are you?” I called aloud,
Rain-weeping clouds, lantern lights waving,
Timbered doors groaned open. Battle, blood,
Pain, tormented dead legions strove past.

No breath or footfalls, neither dead nor alive,
Was I, with sword-stricken dead I mingled,
Rotting corpses, left to dogs, carrion birds.
Horrors witnessed, castle keep set ablaze,
Valiant archers, arrows loosed to no avail.
Fortune’s wheel full-turned, on these brutal
Hills, Ætherstone fell. Long-lived legends by
Hearth fires recited, ink-smudged pages
Penned on winter-restless nights.

Ætherstone and related poetic events are fictional.
Thanks for reading.

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