Isolde in the Forest
by Theodora Goss
Isolde walked among the leafless trees.
A month ago, the aspen had been green
and quivering like a maiden at the touch
of her first lover. Then the grove of oaks
had rustled its red leaves like dowagers
whispering gossip, and the stream had run
between moss-covered banks. How they had changed.
The aspen stood, a slender, shaking thing
stripped of her robes. The oaks stirred silently.
The stream now flowed between bare earth and rock.
All had turned gray, and where not gray then brown.
Just like my love for Tristan, she thought, and his
for me. And as she thought and walked and thought,
the chill wind nipping at her fingertips
and her thoughts growing colder than the wind,
high in the oaks a squirrel chirred, and a bird
called from the aspen, and a drop of rain
fell on the stream’s blank surface, promising
that spring would come again.
(The illustration is by Arthur Rackham. This poem was published in my collection Songs for Ophelia.)