He came back with the migrant birds,
once so strong, now slight of frame,
he sheathed his sword and shuffled
into the village whence he came.

The people here still know him,
they have watched his fame unfold.
Now the hero has come home, they say,
though they see - he has grown old.

* * *

Soon the traveller is beleaguered
by a hundred 'hows' and 'whys',
so he shows his battered body
and they watch with eager eyes.

Each scar reveals a memory
of a date, a place, a name,
each scar relates a story
of courage, pride or shame,

like a map spread out before them,
like the landscape of his life,
and they love, relive, they cherish all his
anguish, sweat and strife.

So he works on feeling younger
through his tales of sword and flame,
through the wonder in their faces -
but it is not the same.

Still he spills his dreams and sorrows
though they pierce him to the core,
and he yearns to stop, yet fears the day
they might not ask for more.

Then he sees he's just a fable,
that they love him for his fame,
but it's all they have to offer,
so he smiles and plays the game.

His weeks are spent on trying
not to care he's tired and tame,
but futility is wearing
when no-one is to blame.

Only once he shakes the stupor,
then his eyes burn bright as stars,
and he cries, “The thing to truly fear
is an end that leaves no scars.”

* * *

He left them with the migrant birds.
The bell tolled seven times.
They won't miss the man, worn-out and grey,
for his name will linger, so they say,
and the stories will not end this way - - -
the hero has gone home today
to the other songs and rhymes.
. . . the hero has gone home . . .

Eva, 20th of January 2004
Not Francesco.
Still dedicated to him.

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