There once was a man who came from a town which the locals called only Nantucket.
He worked in the top of the town’s oldest field, cleaning castles with towels and a bucket.
He lived in a shed where the rain and the mud meant that living required ingenuity,
‘Neath the wall of a castle where mold grew like yeast and it rained in stale perpetuity.
Herblein Steinsteen, his self-given name, called Herblein by friends he held close,
Of which he had none, for it seems everyone who got near him lay dead as a post.
He carried a deep dark secret did he, for ne’er did he once wish to harm.
And kind though he was he stayed hidden in fear, using owls as a howling alarm.
T’was this very secret consuming his thoughts on a dank and windy Halloween,
When our hero, Herblein, heard a knock at his door made of tin, retractable, clean.
“Hello?” whispered Herblein toward the sound of the knock, speaking nervous as penguins in sand.
“I’ve come with good news,” said the voice from the door it was deep, it was cold, it was bland.
“Leave, oh please leave!” Cried our tales leading man, “If we meet you’ll be sure to find doom.”
“It is doom that I seek, from a man they call Herblein, the one with the bucket and broom.”
“Then check somewhere else for though Herblein I be, I carry a bucket with towels.”
“Let me in silly friend you’re the one I that seek, I know, for I followed your owls.”
Then silently, patiently, carefully still, with regret in each step of his stride,
He opened the door and gazed upon death as a man clad in tweed stepped inside.
“I know your true name, and I’ve come for my prize, for surely your time is now through,
You’ve hidden and cleaned while I searched floor to beam, through factories, buildings and stew.”
“You shall never have me,” then Herblein declared, though the reaper in tweed merely laughed,
“Have you really forgotten the deal that you made when you handed our father your staff?”
“The time I was given, ten years, was too short, for I loved and I married and more,
But the curse of my hands and the skill of my blood made my love pass in death to the floor.”
“I’ve brought her, you know,” said the image of Death, “She searches her father despite,
All the years disappeared and the heartache and fear can you hear her call out through the night?”
And he could, in the distance a voice pure as dawn, like a song through the sickening wind,
“Send her away!” Shouted Herblein in plead, “she’ll be killed if we let her get in!”
“Oh Herblein, you cow, you buffoon, you galoot! You insufferable sack of toupees!
Our father will not let a daughter of either of us live on earth to be raised.”
Then Herblein decided and suddenly deep in his brow one could notice a shift,
“It seems my dear brother an impasse has passed an un-breaking, unchangeable rift.”
‘If you must you can have me, my duties I’ll take and I’ll kill and I’ll reap once again,
My brother, I’ll do this but only if promised that age, not your hand make her end.
“I promise your daughter shall rise up to heaven as all other normal ones would,
Embrace me my brother and gather your scythe have a night with the Hallows you should.”
Then after their grip and a thunderous drip from the rain through the roof overhead,
Herblein and tweed changed to cowls with a bleed of bone white and the reek of the dead.
Not a moment had passed when a scream from a girl scarcely twelve came from out of the shed,
With the door opened wide all the child could but see was two faces of death and of dread.
Then much to the shock of our hero and also the girl standing cold in the rain,
The reaper in black, the brother, the killer, the other sliced blade toward pain.
A scream left her lips as the blade blistered down, but from fear as it turns was the wail,
For the reaper in white, the father, the carer, the savior blocked blade from impale.
A battle then raged between darkness and light, such a battle your eyes could but wonder,
For the speed of the movements, the sound of the clash would seem to be nothing but thunder.
And oh how it raged as the girl shivered low, when her grandfather entered the scene,
“My child it is time to be free of this place of the bonds of the Earth, of this dream.”
With the slash of a scythe, she fell to the floor though to heaven or hell we’ll not know,
And her grandfather laughed with a sickening chuckle, but his slash, from above, heard below.
With knowledge and purpose and pain on his side, the white reaper pushes to win,
The dark reaper howling in pain and in pieces a defeated and now useless twin.
Their father arrived with a look on his face that could only be measured as shock,
And Herblein, the reaper looked down at his father his bleached bones as biting as rock.
“A child from me you have taken, my father, and so that cruel favor’s returned.
Now know as you reap, as you hunt, as you sleep, an opponent has risen in turn.”
And off like a shot the white reaper flew free, his mission as clear as the air,
A battle he’d fight, between reaper and reaper, over deaths far too young to be fair,
While all are not won, he’s been known to win most of the wars to let each of them live,
The stubborn white reaper defending the children, a gift from his daughter to give.
So now as you sleep little children take heart, if you hear a dull creak or a whine,
A father protects you, a father like yours, her father, the reaper, Herblein.