Merlin's Oak

Strange that the woman doesn’t seem to mind.

She’s surely Celtic -- or was,

years ago. (Her skin’s too pink for the Mediterranean. Besides

the half-regretted magic on her brow

betrays her Briton-born.)

But her lover is nothing --

too dark for the Isle of Ayr, too pale for Rome,

too bitter-eyed for Gaul or Brittany,

his tales too Western-told for East of these.

Perhaps they are American this time,

but he is getting restless again.

The memory of feathers on his back

is only invitation -- come and hunt me!

He yearns for long ago.

Today

she will not chase his silver-scaled body

and he cannot be snared in her sleeping eyes.

He aches to run,

to see his form-flung shadow shift behind

as he transforms from prey to seed to child.

So many stories, myriads of names --

how can they fade to suffocating peace?

She’s turned him to marble from the waist down

and still he looks at maps and mountains.

(She tells him he’s omniscient

and he mourns. Strange,

strange that Nimue forgot herself

and left him to remember her.)

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