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Frodo Deciding to Leave - by Jo Conkle

This wound will never really heal.
I know that now.
For long I hoped — now all the devastation
That marred the Shire is healing.
Sam’s little trees are growing, even the golden mallorn
Sprung up in glory in the Party Field.
(So long, so long ago, that famous party --
It seems a dream, and not my life at all.
And I was just of age:
I came to my inheritance that night,
Of Bag End — and the Ring.)

Bag End is all restored now,
More beautiful than ever, thanks to Sam.
I think he polished every plank
By hand, and he and Rosie
Followed each other through every room and hall,
Shining the brass and waxing chairs and tables,
Till every surface glowed and caught the light
That poured in through round windows:
They glittered like diamonds in the morning sun.

They work together well, do Sam and Rosie.
I wouldn’t know him anymore
For the shy awkward boy I used to see
At sunset, slipping away to Bagshot Row,
When I was newly come to live with Bilbo.
He was so shamefaced then,
Following after his father in the garden,
Learning his trade in a torrent of hard words.
The Gaffer’s tender touch with growing things
Never extended to his little son.
It worried Bilbo. "That lad’s far too good,"
He said, "To grow up hearing only slurs and scorn
To fill his mind as he weeds the garden beds."
So Bilbo called him in,
Into the shelter of the Bag End kitchen,
Gave him cool water and a tale of dragons,
Mountains and dwarves and piles of jewels and gold.
And year by year he learned to work the garden
While Bilbo taught him poems and elven lore.
So long ago! I used to sit there with them,
A bigger boy myself, for all my twenty years.
I loved the tales as much as Samwise did.

And now we’ve lived a tale
Together, as strange as any we heard told
In that cool-shadowed kitchen long ago.
That I am here at all is thanks to Samwise.
I marvel still when I remember him
Breaking into my hateful waking nightmare
In Cirith Ungol, the tower of the orcs.
From horror and pain I woke up to his face.
And all through Mordor
His was the hope that kept us on our way.
He could find water
In that vile dessert drier than dead ash.
Even in Mordor, he could make me laugh.

The madness gnawed me then.
I had no hope, and now small memory
Of that despairing wasteland.
Only a fiery wheel before my eyes —
Blazing and spinning, dimming the world around
Until I staggered dizzy and half-blind. That,
And a warm hand that held my hand in sleep,
And gentled my eyes to wakefulness again.

Sam, dearest friend.
Without you I would have died.
How can I tell you now I cannot stay?
Oh Sam, can you ever understand?
This wound will never heal.
My soul will never heal — not here.
The blackness of Mordor stalks me even here
In the green peace and beauty of the Shire.

Away beyond the Sea
In Elvenhome I hope I may find Rest,
Tol Eressea where never evil comes.
Oh Sam, please understand.
In all our perils together, you would not leave me,
And now I must leave you.

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