Rita Feinstein is an MFA candidate at Oregon State University, where she studies poetry and teaches freshman composition. Her work has appeared in The Santa Fe Literary Review, Menacing Hedge, and Moonshot Magazine, among other publications.
Lunch With Lancelot; The Queen
Lunch with Lancelot Everything is vegan but the way he looks at me. I get the special, the beet-and-birdseed burger, biodynamic farm-to-table buzzword buzzword. He points at the tea menu and says silver ceylon with a smile that curls the server’s hair. He never seems to eat, but I’ve seen him exquisitely torture a pear, carve it stem to calyx and break the whole thing open like a flower. I collapse in ripe slices when he says my name. I’m supposed to be upset with him, with how I died when he galloped past my window, how I floated down the river in a funeral barge filled with white lilies, and washed ashore at his feet. Why did you wait till then, I ask him, to tell me I was pretty? The burger arrives like a bleeding purple heart, and the server makes a gussying show of pouring his tea. He waits for her to leave, probably to die. That’s one version, he says. In another you were the queen and we rode away from the flames where your own husband condemned you to burn. He sips his tea and his next words are silver paring knives. Don’t you prefer it that way? I imagine my arms around his armored waist, stale flames panting at our backs, an ending anyone could want. No, I say, because how will I know you’re real if you’re not strong enough to destroy me? How indeed? he says, and I brace myself for the knowing.