Thursday, March 20, 2008

623. This Houre Her Vigill - Valentin Iremonger

Elizabeth, frigidly stretched,
On a spring day surprised us
With her starched dignity and the quietness
Of her hands clasping a black cross.

With book and candle and holy water dish
She received us in the room with the blind down,
Her eyes were peculiarly closed and we knelt shyly
Noticing the blot of her hair on the white pillow

We met that evening by the crumbling wall
In the field behind the house where I lived
And talked it over, but could find no reason
Why she had left us whom she had liked so much.

Death yes, we understood: something to do
With age and decay, decrepit bodies;
But here was this vigorous one, aloof and prim
Who would not answer our furtive whispers

Next morning, hearing the priest call her name,
I fled outside, being full of certainty,
And cried my seven years against the church's stone wall.
For eighteen years I did not speak her name

Until this autumn day when, in a gale,
A sapling fell outside by window, its branches
Rebelliously blotting the lawn's green. suddenly, I thought
Of Elizabeth, frigidly stretched.

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