blancwene: (A well-fairing maiden - N&S)
[personal profile] blancwene
The hooded ladies here are wonderfully kind.
They have been gentle since the day
I first arrived, and even more so since the night
a messenger came riding through the rain
to say the king was dead.

They brought me shears and watched
in silence as I destroyed my hair.
A circling hawk cried once and flew away
into the trees. Will anyone believe
in days to come how much I loved my husband?
I sat awake that night beneath
the dripping leaves, then under the quiet stars
that came out after the rain moved on.

***

The garden here has mild-hued flowers
and large-leafed trees for shade.
In the morning and at dusk songbirds
send sweet music through the air.
I am learning how to live without desire.

When Lancelot came here from France
to be the hunting hawk to Arthur's hand
I watched myself falling into love
and lay down at night hiding it.

I learned. I laid a naked sword
along my mind to bar him from my centre,
smiling with all proper courtesy
upon him, as on every man at court
until we were caused to be once
alone. I was made to see his own mask
crumble, baring the brilliant pain behind.

I could not hide from that.
There was no place to hide.
I was brought into another life
and began to live with grief,

for Arthur knew. He knew me as he knew
each single star that swung about like
pointers to his north. I heard the silence
of his soul beside me in the dark
and his forbearance broke
my heart, for I loved him.

Will anyone believe, in days to come,
how much? I loved them both.
For my hair, now cropped and ragged,
all that bright aspiring
was sundered and sent to war.

I am learning how to live with this.
I thought of dying more than once.
The last time, the night that Arthur died.
Not since. We cannot be other than
we are. I loved two men. A kingdom
broke for it. Something fell that was a star.
We cannot be other than we are.

***

I never dream of one of them alone.

I see them on a forest path,
riding together. Dappled, autumn
leaves, a slanting sun just risen.
Or in battle side by side
with bloodied swords,
in the hard north. Or talking
a winter night away beside a fire
in a kingdom that has not fallen.
In those dreams I was never in Camelot.

That pain is worst of all.
Those images wake me, shivering,
needing comfort, knowing there is none,
except for this: they are not true.
Dreams are not always true.
It was for me, it was for me,
it was for love of me that Camelot
became what once it was.

Lacking Guinevere, there is nothing there.
And what I let make, I let destroy.

I will die someday. I loved them both.


--"Guinevere at Almesbury," Guy Gavriel Kay

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It is always remarkable when someone sees your soul to a better degree than you see it yourself. You could count the people who see your soul on one hand. Others might know you but they would forget; their knowledge of you was like a weak and undisciplined thing. But that wasn’t so with him. He didn’t forget. It stuck in his mind. He had seen a kindred soul. He had seen it long ago. She only saw it now. But she was stricken with it. Suddenly she had identified him. There was the man she loved. As a result, she proceeded dementedly to behave as if the opposite were true.

–Nancy Lemann, The Fiery Pantheon

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