“The Ghost by the Water” by Nels Hanson

As you’ve learned at our wounded
lord’s last order one knight named
Bedivere took what the future king
raised from stone and hurried past

dark briars toward a howling loon.
Two handed I swung the beautiful
Excalibur far over the murky lake
and instantly a slender radiant arm

sheathed in gold and silver samite
rose to its shoulder from the water.
The flashing sword’s jeweled haft
all day Arthur waved in battle fell

into the lovely hand and vanishing
ivory sleeve and fingers withdrew
the blade into the lake. Widening
circles lapped reeds and the crazed

bird cried for Camelot’s lost spires
with pennants flying, the forsaken
Round Table, once fair Guinevere,
her faithful and so faithless knight,

twelve knights in armor darkening
in turn like spent flambeaux along
a corridor. Our sought Grail’s holy
brim flared twice in a ring of stars

beyond Orion’s reach as westward
the setting moon foretold a second
darkness and left me to wait, watch
by these waters for the Lady to rise.


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