The heart of another is a dark forest.
Blood jets from the instantly headless neck.
Skeletons still garbed in mail hang from trees.
Visors up when riding, down when dying.
There’s no Grail brought back. Plunged into the lake
perhaps. Yet once lay within Lancelot’s reach.
He failed. They failed. The heart rots, and the mind.
Waste grasped securely. He kisses her hem,
forswears adultery, vows to abate
his lust. She wants him to want her body.
Grail enough for any knight, even him.
The horses’ hooves. Endless clank of armor.
Shrill bird cries. Horses also know the paths,
can ignore the reins. There is a forest
in men’s hearts, too many trees to adore.
There is only one Grail, one Guenievre,
one Mordred, one Gauvain, one king, Arthus,
Camelot with its round empty table.
Skulking to the loft, he loves her body,
she receives his, they die only small deaths.
She will die with Arthus. He dies alone.
Even where minstrels play, mail clanks, off-screen
horses whinny shrilly, games played to pass
the time between battles. Now Lancelot
anonymous under his visor wins.
He defeats the lot. Treacherous Mordred
holding the cards, Guenievre puts her hand
on Lancelot’s hand returning her before
riding under the forest’s empty sky,
dark birds plunging, a horse with no rider.
He sighs her name, rolling over to die.
Nothing but death is irrevocable.
(after Bresson’s Lancelot du lac, 1974)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander