The Bear and the Maiden Fair

The Bear and the Maiden Fair

Today I cross the borderlands with this girl,
no more than seventeen summers.
Three days ago she lost her son.
Two days ago she lost her husband.
Yesterday, she nursed three dragons,
the last wild things I saw in this red waste
that sprawls into heartbreaking infinity.
She is my queen, my Khaleesi, I am her knight:
an exile, a former slaver with bad knees, bad debt and a bald spot.
I spied on her so I could return home, but that was before…

She didn’t notice me watching
her tuck a strand of her white blond hair out of her eye,
nor eat the peach I gave her from our stop in the oasis,
or rub her chapped lips together.

I can’t remember my wife’s face,
nor what she liked best for supper,
only that she told me once I was her bear.
I come from Bear Island, filled with snowy firs;
My queen, also an exile, also born on an island
Where waves crash against the granite cliffs
and ships fan out into the Narrow Sea.
Her father, the Mad King, was stabbed by the Usurper
and she never knew a real home, like I did.

Right now I know she’s thinking about returning
to her rightful place, to end starvation and the war,
rule her people justly.
She knows the horses will die
in two days without water and so will we,
yet still she moves us forward into the unknown.

Sometimes she asks me what I want
and I wish I could tell her the truth:
the only home I want is with her.

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