Rich Adams
Texas Ruby Red
First Prize Award Winner

I watched them. Through jugglers and jesters, the chatter and clatter and cheering, the torch smoke and tournament smells, I watched them. His eyes, two brushes blue, painting her body with silent passion. She, with muffled desire, studied through half-closed lashes his every grace.
And we all pretended--the others with self-imposed blindness, I with contemplated ignorance--that there was nothing to see. We all turned away, as if time were not sand slipping between fingers. This evening, as on other evenings, songs will be sung in the bustle of celebration. The illusion will be maintained, Merlin-like, to protect the dream.
Can either endure much longer? Songs end.
I love them both, and they me, and therefore the sweetness is ever so much more bitter. Are they as torn as I? Is she? Is guilt for her as dagger sharp as the anguish in my stomach's pit? Yet am I above her in guilt? I indulge her as if she were a child, and die a little each time I look away. If not the king of her heart, am I then king of nothing?
To confront, to ignore--both are wrong.
When they feast on the other's eyes, and are blind to everyone else, are they also blind to the future? Isn't blindness often a choice? They ride in a boat of delicate balance upon a perilous stream, past battlements that will crumble into forgotten grottos. Love is a gentle river that pulls down mountains.

First published: July 1996