The Temptation of Sir Percival by Arthur Hacker
The Temptation of Sir Percival by Arthur Hacker

 “ . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . one night my vow
Burnt me within, so that I rose and fled,
But wail’d and wept, and hated mine own self,
And even the holy quest, and all but her;
Then after I was join’d with Galahad
Cared not for her nor anything upon earth.”
–Percivale, Idylls of the King

All but her
Not for her

In the forest, sitting on a dead branch
Heaving up the rancid beef
A stranger had sold me the day before
I would think of it.

I always imagined it as shining and white,
Pure as the boy I had to be
To be the boy who
To be the one
To be an equal to
To be worthy

A woman not like my mother or sisters
Nor like those with teeth gone
And hair smelling of earthworms
Who always seemed to find me

Anytime I was lost

And I was lost a lot.

A woman came to me and told me
The secret. I left the woods
Behind and walked
Down the hallway.

I could not feel it in my hands.
It was neither warm nor cold.

The wind played chopsticks
Through the mortar cracks
On the walls.

It was not shiny and not brilliant
And neither was I.

–Shaun Perkins

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