Fisher King’s Last Stand

Heroes are rare - James Baldwin

It’s the gradual gentle things that slip away,
It’s only later you notice the lack.
One morning during the trial I woke
to her repeated absence for the first time,
a wound beyond reason becoming a grail.

This head I bring you, Peredur, is not 
what you’d expect, but you’re a purer fool 
than I could ever be, and she was loved
beyond explicable reason; thus guilty
I underwent the psychometric testing,

It’s no good to be weeping by a stream,
even if slaughtered enemies drift by,
fly-christened, dishonoured by eel and pike.
The balladeer sings of the ghosts in the water, 
and I have lost my touch and hers

Because she was not meant for me I bear
this constant wound, which says I am no good,
and renders these dominions under curse.
The clumsiness in I how act and speak
is taken as a measure of my thought,

Which can, in otherwise contrariness,
cover the fields like a river in flood,
like a hare at pace under blazing sun
but rests now, wounded under camouflage,
ready to spring like a bird from a trap
to rail at the moon, howling like an orphan

In the lashing rain you face the cliff
and know you do not have the strength
to either climb or fall. The light is fading 
and your valour, curled like a drenched wren
in a feathered ball weighing less than a soul,
is not enough to keep you honest now.

The heart breaks again at the point where
you’re forced to choose: to ascend, heroically,
against the slippery god-like face of rock
or let yourself down and be mortal,
and even Christ could not let that cup pass

In the broken, unrepented morning 
this is how King Pellam’s Land is lying, 
where you have come looking for something, 
but only finding barren wastes and me

Peredur, I see once more my younger 
self in you, coming all this way
for a grail you know can never be found

I cannot tell you what to do or say,
but ask the healing question, cure the wound

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