That’s how it’s told from the male-centric perspective, the guy who tells
what he insists is the story. She’s cursed
if she pauses from her weaving
to look outside, but she has no clue what that curse might be. She hangs
a mirror to look outside,
working the loom with her feet as she stretches
to pound a nail into a wall to suspend the looking glass and our disbelief
while the wooden loom jostles and hums
because women do everything
except spot a gap in logic sure as light through a thinning patch of fabric
whose threads while the bolt stretched from the loom were always awry.
Narrator—male—says it’s her fault, when Lancelot flashed in the mirror,
bright as a sunbeam and tall in the saddle,
that the Lady just had to look.
The mirror cracked and the spell of protection gushed away like a split
seam in Titanic’s hull
when it got that cold shoulder. Mixing metaphors
but she was just as doomed as the liner and doom is doom for a woman—
who splits hairs or dust bunnies on that one?
Dumb bunny, Anne Sexton
said about Snow White. It’s meta but a wonder about fairy tale heroines,how they make it to the end. Doesn’t happen in my deep concrete forest.
She looked straight toward Camelot, got cold-cocked by flying dementia.
Never mind Lancelot stalking her, sunlight
timed to glint from his armor
into said looking glass. Plot device out of a Lifetime movie. Spell broke,
along with her ankle.
Doctor said it was all just a sprain—her rationality
would heal just fine. She ambled three weeks in pain and a blissful state,
thanks to new medication—when a man
doubts a woman, prescribe pills.
Like when a man doubts a woman caught inside reflections, running into
glass recollections which shatter upon impact. “He’s a knight, after all.”
Either meds or a mild concussion got the Lady to think about seeking
the Holy Grail. Forget second opinions. She
thirsted for Casablanca—
to drink from the waters—but misinformed on liquid assets. Lancelot
followed her. He was
a ringer for Humphrey Bogart, cigarette smoke
wreathing around him like a pet cobra. Narrator didn’t want Lancelot
to come across as the Marlboro Man, riding
high with smoker’s cough
and getting lung cancer—tarnishes a knight’s repute, Not to mention
an EBT card between his nicotine-stained fingers or his thinning hair.
as if the Round Table gave federal assistance. And there was something
predatory about those soulful brown eyes,
something serpentine, coiled
within metallic scales to strike. Who’d believe King Arthur’s man would
not treat a woman ladylike?
That was the point—ladylike lies in the eye
of the withholder, all secrets and cries in secluded spaces—repute never
in dispute. He nursed Scotch from a booth
as the Lady, from a bar stool,
offered whoever stopped to order drinks the directions to hell and back.
Swore the directions were good. Follow them, you’d only get lost twice.
*Title taken from the poem “Darlene’s Hospital” by John Asbhery, in his collection A Wave.
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who hasn’t yet given up his day-job as an in-house health-care worker and continues to wonder at the variety of local bird life which has reclaimed the skies since the Covid lockdown. His work has appeared in High Shelf Poetry, MaqQueen’s Qulnterly, Synkroniciti and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, was published by Tebot Bach in 2021.