That block of marble fashioned into man and horse,
Set not far within the Rammas-gate.
His chest was twisted round, he recalls in later days.
(The stone-man's, not Faramir's;
Though the sight always made Faramir twist as well, for that one last glimpse.)
Such forms had a name, he had learned it once; now it escapes him.
There was a time when those scholar's questions absorbed him, refreshed his soul
Like mulled wine on a winter's day; but such studies now seemed child's play.
The statue, though... Faramir could not recall the proper words, but still he knew beauty;
'Twas a last glimpse of civility, before the wilds of Ithilien.
Faramir loved those woods, longed for the music of water falling
Against stones worn smooth by time and rain.
Stil, he loved also the quiet archives, and the stone men from ages past,
Loved them almost as kin.
He wondered, sometimes, in the years before the War:
Did that stone-man charge toward Osgiliath? Or retreat?
Did he turn for one last sight of home ere battle called him?
Did he hope for the glimpse of a beloved's kerchief waved from Minas Tirith's heights?
(Impossible; but Faramir knew logic held little sway on such rides.)
Or was he homeward-bound, his horse turned aside for a moment's chase?
What farewell stood fresh in memory, so recent?
Who waited to welcome him home?
And must return always mean defeat?, a part of his mind always asked.
For Denethor's son has since seen triumphal returns, now; but not then.
Or at least: what few there were could not stand up to bloodier memories.
He could not forget, could not banish the memory of courtyards strewn with dying men.
The stench of blood and gut, the low moans that broke past gritted teeth late at night:
Later, years later, he saw other armies returning, those men well healed of all wounds,
Their fluttering banners dancing in the morning breeze; their armor gleaming heroically.
But only almost.
Even after, as his sons grew into men,
And the before-times became almost a minstrel's fancy, still Faramir remembered.
All too often, that ride across Pelennor had started with those gut-wrenching words:
He wonders, sometimes, what became of that rider. Did time claim it, or orcs?
Faramir cannot remember, if ever he knew.