THE ARCHER AND THE SLIP OF THE TONGUE

a poem by Rita Joyce Singh, India

He was that friend, close to my heart
Trusted and tried right from the start

As friendship went under this sun
Through good and bad we strove as one

A skilled archer he was by trade
Born honed to skills, perforce god-made

Merciful mentor, soft spoken
To often advise compassion

Then one fine day, upon our walk
He, in rare form, began to talk

He doubted my deed's innocence
Thinking I’d unreined vengeance

The talk grew to an argument
Neither would he nor I relent

He stood his ground and gave all vent
To make a point, did quick augment

Brawn to the brain and raised his bow
Agast, I was same friend to know!

My head took to heels, just in case
He meant to shoot, giving me chase

Soon, well aimed arrows pricked my chest
Smoking my heart out of its rest

"Conscience!" I yelled, "Stop! You Archer!"
Would you drag me through such torture

"Fair minds," he roared, "Must heed Conscience!"
Replied I, "Lies are great offence!"

And, point to which you so refer
‘Compassion’, is what I prefer.

Trust me! I heard your voice, willing
Yet, truth slipped my tongue, I unwilling.

Keeping fair mind, befriends Conscience
Fairer tongues, truth's significance.

Our friendship weighs much more than this
Most days you win, some days you miss.

You are my conscience, gate-watcher
Twice in one we live, dear Archer

In dire need, when close to sin
I hold you close, my heart within

Waste not these darts, Conscience pricking..
Sometimes truth... bares without seeking!

And, compassion must take back seat
No reason to trounce me or beat

Had..... truth you taught me far more less
I would have dealt softened redress"



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