Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dark Knight of the Soul

He rides high in his saddle, this
Young knight, kicking dirt off his boots
From villages full of peasants he finds
Unworthy of his visage.

"Your name, sir?"
A quivering child asks at the inn
"Which of the heroic knights are you?"
He slaps her away and sits by the fire
Near a minstrel singing
Tales of far away lands and brave knights
With deeds well known

Nay, no mention of his name
Which plagues him as he lays down each night under the stars
Staring up to the heavens as the years go by
Wondering when his glorious moment will come.
He rides into forests challenging wolves
Hoping for mysterious dreaded beasts or damsels in distress
Around each copse of trees
But ignores the plight of the peasants
Despite floods and famine and attacks by intruders
No matter how they beg
It is none of his affair.

He dons his armor each daybreak
Glinting from polish, nary a dent on it sadly
No blood, no gore, no mark
Pure as the day the blacksmith made it
Mounts his steed and sets out to find work worthy of his knighthood

But there is little to do it seems
His fellow knights have beat him to it
Wearing the tokens of their damsels
And earning special favor with the king
While he must be content with tournament wins
And patiently waiting for an act worthy of his prowess

Until the day - finally - he hears a scream in the forest
And turns to see the blade of a villain across the neck of a lady
Who is weeping - just as he imagined a damsel in distress would.
He charges toward them, his helmet plate down
His weapon leveled and cries "Release her, sir or suffer the perils of dismemberment"
(A line he rehearsed as a schoolboy but perhaps should have tweaked)
The villain releases the damsel and turns toward the knight, sword raised
"Your name, sir?" he asks
"I do not recognize you"
The knight stops suddenly, realizing the villain is the king's brother
And with that rides off, another heroic deed denied

The knight lives a long and healthy life
Patrolling the uneventful forest full of squirrels and rabbits
No beasts or ghosts to be found
Eventually he dies of gout
In an inn where no one recognizes him
Where tales of brave deeds are sung
Of other knights
Much luckier than him.

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