Beware the Blind Highwayman
“Beware the blind highwayman,”
the gypsy woman warned.
“Fear his flint fingers,
no coin bags, jewel boxes,
necklaces or rings to grab
from the coach of the gentry,
but heat from the heart,
last light from the soul.”
It seemed the thing to do, to see her.
He was young, it was summer,
her caravan there to enter,
sat on its site,
near west gate corner,
come with the travelling fair
that came every year to the Town Moor.
“But how can the sightless steal?”
he asked her.
“Sounds like a riddle.
How could one blind be a thief?”
“Not now, not here, not how things are,”
she told him.
“Time is still chained
to the broken wheel of empire and war,
human history’s disgrace.
No, when he appears, it will be a sign
that the change has come,
the chance has gone
to preserve what love was there,
what peace was cupped in the hand.
When he rides from the stable yard, shows on the shore,
on the hill top, on the bend in the lane,
all might as well be dark.
Only anarchy then, and hate will remain.
In his time, the sightless will steal,
the blind one be thief.”
“Sorry, ” he said, creaking back in his chair.
“Curiosity led me in here,
to hear my fortune told.
Did not expect chilling prophecies.”
“It is you,” she told him.
“I only say what comes from you.
Maybe you are empty, like so many today.
Who summoned the blind highwayman?
It was you, not I.”
Stiff, pale, he nodded, stood up,
opened the door, stepped out, into open air,
paid to see a freak in a tent,
shoot arrows in a bull’s eye.
On his walk home in the night,
forbid his mind to give shape to shadow.