Crown of Blood

The queen is murdered as she walks alone in the garden.
Her assailant is in the secret employ of her husband, the king.
An angel, invisible, is in the garden at that same moment,
deadheading ghosts from wilted roses. He pulls

the heart from the dead queen’s chest. At the angel’s
touch, the heart transforms into a scarlet crown. As arranged,

the murderer reports to the king; the king slays him. In cunning
sleight, the king sends guards to protect the queen.
The queen’s ghost rises from her body and the angel
places the crown upon her spectral head.

The spirits of roses flitter about her like scented flames.
The garden path opens downwards, slotted with steps.

The queen descends through the crust of the Earth
to her destination, where she is elevated into the Earth’s core.
She is now enthroned as the Queen of the Eternal Heart—
forever beating, forever aching, forever betrayed.

The king, pleased with his deception, is unaware that new
borders are being drawn, that blood is condensing in the clouds.

John W. Sexton was born in 1958 and lives in the Republic of Ireland. His fifth poetry collection, The Offspring of the Moon, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. A sixth collection, Futures Pass, is forthcoming from Salmon in May 2018. His poem The Green Owl was awarded the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007 for best single poem, and in that same year he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His speculative poems are widely published and some have appeared in Abyss & Apex, The Edinburgh Review, The Irish Times, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mirror Dance, The Pedestal Magazine, Silver Blade, Star*Line and Strange Horizons.

Editor’s Notes: Image of a ghostly fairy queen embellished with a crown and a bleeding heart captures, at least symbolically, the emotional truth of the poem.