They struck his legs and took him down–his knees
were bent and twisted–when they drove their knives
into his back and beat him as he lay
in shock, face down and gasping in the dirt.
Betrayed, deceived, attacked by those he’d led,
who’d whispered sacred oaths of mission and love
with tongues of treason and evil hearts, he choked
for final breaths to call upon the one
he knew was true: the gentle angel of fire
and light.

Before he spoke, she came and knelt
and put her lips beside his ear and said:
“Hear me, my man of mud and blood—arise!
Today is not the day you die. You will
live on, and love, and fight for what you know
is right. Your golden heart will beat with joy

He laid so still she feared him gone.
She put a tender hand upon his head
and stroked his hair the way she had before.
She spoke again, this time with force, with rage:
“I love you, damn it!”

Cutting through the dark,
her voice achieved his soul, her words revived
his heart. She watched his shoulders swell, and saw
his muscles flex, his sinew draw, and heard
him say, “As I do you.”

His hands pulled close
and pushed his face and chest above the dirt.
As tears poured down his cheeks, he spat the blood
they’d drawn and smiled at her. “As I do you.”