Snow (The King's Trumpeter)

Thaw every breast, melt every eye with woe,

Here's dissolution by the hand of death!

To dirt, to water, turned the fairest Snow.

O! The King's trumpeter has lost his breath.

-anonymous epitaph

Snow (The King's Trumpeter)

A pure, unwavering note pierced the hard air of the winter morning.

A pure, unwavering note pierced the stricken hearts of the mourners, gathered around the black casket.

A pure, unwavering note pierced the stillness of grief.

Peter stood stiffly, bare, rough hands clasped behind his back. The edgy wind shifted the curling ends of his hair, nudging them to brush the back of his neck, or graze his stubbled cheeks, but the king did not move. No, he stood stiffly. And he did not grieve for the pleasure of the living. He grieved for the dead.

Beside him stood Edmund, solemn and silent, black hair stroked with the white of the morning snow. He did not know the man as Peter did, but he knew the sounds of him. He knew the brilliant fanfare; he knew the grief-stricken cry; he knew every beautiful, soaring, plunging note. And he grieved for it.

The old, wrinkled face did not smile beneath the sheet that hid it. Weary cheeks and tired lips rested finally in darkness, enclosed in the lightless peace of black-painted oak, and the man did not smile. Nor did the figures gathered about the coffin, who shivered in the cold, draped in black wool and grave-faced. There were no smiles for lonely, unwelcome Death. There were never smiles for Death.

The box was lifted slowly, and borne towards the courtyard of old stones and weather-worn words. Then did Peter move, with footsteps muted by fresh white, with his stiffness in his expression now, and grace in his movement instead. His brother followed him, at a distance, eyes cast to the sky, remembering the music. Peter remembered the man.

He remembered strong hands and stooped shoulders, proud grey eyes and a stern mouth. He remembered wrinkled skin, fragile bones and white hair. He remembered brass and duty.

When oak touched earth, and the casket was buried in snow and dirt, the brothers knelt as one to pray. Words, vacant and without shape, echoed through the graveyard quietly. Deep in the rock, stiff hands clasped brass to a cold, unmoving chest, and death forever silenced the great man who lay there.

The kings stood. The snow fell. And from the tower of the Cair, a young man drew his breath, raised his trumpet to his lips, and a brassy requiem descended down among the mourners, golden music pouring sound into silence, pouring beauty into vacancy, pouring life into death.