Round Table: Fisher King

This is part of a sequence of five vignettes of Arthurian characters and dilemmas placed into historical contexts, written on commission from Bedtime Stories for the End of the World (link). For the full sequence of poems, click here (link)

For an audio file of my reading of the full sequence click here (link – note, it may autoplay)

For a podcast of myself and Momtaza Mehri discussing our poems click here (link), and for a transcript of the podcast click here (link)


Fisher King – Frensham – 2120

This boat replaced my legs, long ago.
I never leave the water now, though
my oars are green with algae, and snares
slowly through the sludge. The fish I catch
and eat – still raw and wriggling – are long
and thin. More fragile bone than flesh. I choose
to stay amidst the water, not return to shore.
My wound, my body, my failing land – the
acid rain has drenched the trees and lakes.
I will not be healed – my legs – my wound.
Watch me turn away Perceval – his lance
can make whole only me, but I am as hurt
as the land is hurting and I would rather die
as the land itself is dying. But come the grail
to trade for the faerie’s stolen cauldron and
then its devastation shall be healed. I shall
stay like this, by choice, but not barren, bear
daughters from my womb, my hidden wound
and lie off-shore, and over days the land
itself regrows, refreshes. Friend, there will be
a place where we can start again, my wound
a badge, the land, not sore but healing,
our love, not sore but healing – please – bring
only the holy grail – and yourself. Please,
come to me alone and let us renew the world.

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