LaBelle-Dame-Dicksee-LAfter the painting La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Sir Frank Dicksee

 But it is not me
–not me in that painting.
John Keats was ever alone and destined
To die young—he was consumed,
Consumed—I tell you—with disease
Not me.

And yet.

I often think the mad Lancelot
Was the only sane one.
The world did not matter.
My hair was a mess. My muscles even
Began to atrophy. I was the earth’s—
Not that woman’s.

Her hair was not as soft as the stories say,
Nor her lips so sweet
Yet I was a lounging panther
In the branches of her limbs
And resting there or lunging
On her and inside her always
My darkness against her greenery.

She smelled of lavender and thyme

And I knew exactly what I did with her.
I saw myself placing my hand
On her belly and sliding it down
Between her legs. I knew
Each moment.

I had no indecision.
At Maying, in the forest, against a tree
Her back scraping the bark
As we moved, a ray of sun
Through the oak slashing her
Throat and my lips leaving
Marks there.

The dogs would find us.

–Shaun Perkins

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