Iffley the Unspoiled*
by Lea Galanter
*from The Book of Crowns and Cottages
Here is a moment
from the lives of ancient kings,
their high thrones on either hand.
From kings to cabbages,
the purple nightmare emerges
in every blowsy negligee, in every hue.
Boatmen swarm there like Algerian pirates,
rivers redolent, crossing England by half-pennies.
Better to put your trust in leather soles.
Lime trees as old as singing monks
trained to grow like candelabra.
Here are the holy things
that time cannot touch,
tasting of sweet lavender.
Men with gold and honey
in their names
at home in their shrines.
who lives in the calm past
has the shell that hides the key.
One who cannot play the hermit forever
keeps his house quietly against the years
and lives in his clouds.
Death can come sweetly to them here.