Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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by Will Conway

The nameless sentinel watches
Over the shadows that no one else sees,
Forgotten but for a few glances.
The dust covering its gleam as ancient
As the principles and romances it once stood for.
The helm’s visor is down,
Prepared for a world that will never require it,
Hailing from a time that will always venerate it.
Its sword and shield are still gripped by hands of metal,
An iron grip that has remained for centuries
And will endure for centuries more.
The sword has lost its edge,
The shield its splendor,
But steel gauntlets grasp both artifacts
With a hold cemented in rust and resolve,
Seemingly ready to wield either if ever called upon.
Blood no longer mars the blade,
Just as there are no more foes to fight
Or companions or castles to guard.
The glorious battles have faded into former times,
And the chivalry of courtships with them.
The legends have left,
But the armor remains, dignified in its defiance,
Loyal to the last.
Now, it has nothing to defend,
No knight to protect,
No queen to serve,
No dragon to slay.
The intricate engravings on its plate,
Long defeated by age and grime,
Exhibit once exquisite carvings,
Romanticized illustrations, calligraphic images,
Imparting epic duels and knightly valor,
Of pride in its precision and of beauty in its detail,
As exiled from the world as the armor that bears it.
Pictures of courtship adorn the arms:
A knight fighting for his love,
At risk of his own life.
A withered, weather-beaten scarf,
Red as the blood he bled for her,
Compliments the scenes upon the right arm.
The breastplate and pauldron carry images
Of battle, of glory,
Along with dents, scratches, rents in the armor,
Not quite repaired.
Upon the cuisses and greaves
Stand depictions of determination,
A knight keeping his ground,
For love and for loyalty.
But all the engravings are filled with dust and dirt,
Some rubbed to near non-existence
By years of toil and abuse.
And the metal itself,
Like the illustrations it houses,
Is almost bent with the weight of the ages.
Now, nigh nothing of it remains,
No eyes to stare from the slits,
No beat to reverberate from a heart,
No breath to animate from a corpse.
But still the armor awaits,
Abhorrent to admit its own defeat,
Eager for when its sojourn will again be called for.
Still the armor stands,
A testament to the age of its birth,
To the honor-bound code of its creation.

© 2010 Will Conway

Will Conway is a senior Creative Writing major at Susquehanna University, who has been reading fantasy for thirteen years.

Find more by Will Conway in the Author Index.

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