Amongst the rugged peaks and plunging gorges of the Allgäu,
two newlywed artists zip up their windbreakers
and watch their breaths rise into the ghosts
around New Swanstone Castle.
Their gazes trace the turrets and spires above them in mist,
their raw hands hold entrance tickets—reserved well in advance
lest they sell out.
Another swan castle looms low in the valley,
Ludwig’s parents’ castle,
whence disapproving eyes once glared at the fairy-tale king
—for giving full reign to his imagination—
and the project that diverted him from public life.
His head swirling with theatre and music and legend,
Ludwig II took refuge in this most majestic,
most impractical place.
Bad king. Mad king!
With dreams impossible to realize—and finance.
The cost of Ludwig’s castles:
his kingdom and his life.
The waste. The waste!
The money. The man.
with hearts full of honey,
lives full of debt and duties neglected,
wait in the winding line,
tasting the chill,
in the driving