Galahad – Patricia Nelson

Galahad was the “most perfect” knight who found and held the Holy Grail. One legend had it that the knight who achieved the grail would live forever.

i.
Belief is the thread that mends the dark,
a temperature the eye can follow down
a road that is made of mind and other dangers.

I held up my belief and looked through
green after green, a strange forest. It moved
like water as I crossed with the other riders.

The way of my belief was clean, but strange,
hushed as in an eclipse: The curve of the grail
seen from many tangled places, like the moon.

ii.
I lifted my oath and my eye to the stars. I did not change
when dangers came, temptations bloomed in the corners,
and the space in the story folded back on itself.

Did that make me good? I don’t know why
so many others failed, and I did not, why
the tokens of bright and dark altered many times.

The truth is a distant star that floats, burning
and unsafe, sometimes below the line of the eye,
never the same in its consequences.

iii.
I feel the grail still, like silk, like silence on my fingers
when the air is dark and tall and I remember that I’m alone:
The loss of my companions larger than my love for the grail.

I live on: a season in what is real
exuding its red music,
its discarded symmetry.

They say I will live forever in this light,
this right and holy shimmer.
This sadness without further instructions.

iv.
There is nothing else. The hero you imagine
is a gesture only, to keep falsity away.
And that dark where no others are.

Patricia NelsonPatricia Nelson is a former attorney who works with the “Activist” group of poets in California. Her most recent book, Out of the Underworld, is due out this year from Poetic Matrix Press.