A Tale of Guinevere and Lancelot

Queen Guinevere William Morris This work of art is in the public domain
Queen Guinevere
William Morris
This work of art is in the public domain

Guinevere
Soft and lost
Naïve and wise
Stood on the street corner
Watching poetry fly
up toward the street lamps
like moths to that last hope
That dangerous burning promise
When Lancelot happened by

Oh, hey there, Guinevere
Hey, friend of mine
Imagine running into you like this
your letter fresh in my pocket
Unanswered and waiting
Naïve and wise
I was going to write
I’d have written so well
but I’ve been so busy
Didn’t you hear?
I’ve gone on a quest
I’m finding the Holy Grail

She tried to pass him
but he pulled her close
So lately familiar

Lancelot, don’t
Don’t stand so near me
We can’t collide anymore
I never knew you at all
I knew you like I shouldn’t
How you shed your clothes
The first time I asked
And I saw what you thought of me
Alive and real and unmasked
But now my words
My heart
Hidden there in your pocket
Exposing the colors
The me I think I am
I showed you mine
But you won’t give me a peek
Not of your heart
You won’t undress that far

Hey, friend,
said Lancelot
Don’t think it doesn’t matter
But my silence is the kinder story
Than a lie about the contents of my heart
A heart I hardly know

Don’t mind me,
said Guinevere
Don’t stand there watching, Lancelot
I’m just falling
One foot in front of the other
Like learning
Like walking
And Baby, a woman
She can walk all night
Until she comes to that morning light
Where the sky grows soft
and the pillars sleek
That man-made building between her streets
How it can touch her sky
and make her breathe
I know you know that feeling
You have shown me

But I was falling from the start, Lancelot
When my sins came spilling
All at once into your lap
And you said…
I’d have asked you anyway

My god, I thought
Here he is
A man who can make me breathe
A man who will take me as I am
I fell
One foot in front of the other
Until you found me here

Oh, Guinevere
My friend
Where is that woman I held?
Wild and impetuous and free
You will run me off with girlish fear
Don’t look for my white horse now
I’ll still make you breathe
We’ll find some other convenient time

Lancelot
Soft and lost
Older and wiser
Stood on the street corner
His face unmasked in the summer sun
No lover’s shadows to hide behind
Just a man
of lost intentions
of empty promises
of wayward dreams
Just a man
in civil war with disappointment
and the brilliance of his mind
and the goodness of his heart

Guinevere
There in front of him
Her heart and Camelot destroyed
Nowhere left to run
Knowing everything
Coming to her own wasted truth
I’d have asked him anyway

I’m late, said Lancelot
I’ve got a grail to chase

Sometimes, a man
He comes up empty handed
Nothing to hold but his own manhood
When a Guinevere happens by
A woman to fill with his empty time
That sacred gift
That faith for free
Consecrated at her private alter
Isn’t that what holy means?
And isn’t she a vessel?
Isn’t she that grail?
Hidden there in plain sight
Right in front of him

But, Lancelot
He turned away
Sometimes, a man
He’s out for the quest
He looks around another corner

Sometimes, a woman
She swallows regret for her pride
She learns to offer the final empty lie
I’ll see you later
Guinevere called after Lancelot
When she really meant goodbye

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