The “Verger”

When Isolde looked over her shoulder, the king’s barons took note of where she gazed. If Isolde walked the castle grounds, the barons shadowed from a distance. And while they kept an eye on Isolde, I kept them in view. And while I watched the barons and listened for the gossip of everyone I passed, they saw me and heard me, too. I tired of being eyed–as Isolde’s companion, lady-in-waiting, foreigner, and healer. (There were worse names for the latter.)

One day after Tristan and Isolde met in their “verger” (orchard), I slipped in for a moment and laid down. Here, the green sky flowed, then pooled around bunches of fruit and scented flowers–red, violet, orange, and yellow, and the birds chirped and sang to each other. I became part of an ethereal choir’s song, almost disappearing within it. Judgment, like an ill humour, eased off my scalp, and my heart lightened. I had heard Isolde tell Tristan she thought maybe the verger was “merveilleux” (marvelous, supernatural), as though it might vanish like Tintagel (once in winter and once in summer). But I think the marvel was that for a moment I could become one with the beauty surrounding me and let go of things I heard around the castle and could not forget. Then I sighed, stood up, inhaled a delicious breath of honeysuckle and turned back.

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