Writing a Letter in a new tongue.


       Frail as a bone                   and fifty-one years old at
       law this year;                       you twinkle at me as you
       pick, aloud,    through the new language. Humble
       before the law,               with mild complaint at the
       setting aside                                 of generations of 'in'
       terpretation.                 Understanding, as opposed
       to that tower                                     of tranquil clarity
       you've built on, built from;        how many years be
       yond, before the law?             A small complaint to
       lose the Book of Common  Prayer - though your own

       interpretations        stood the ground for you and
       loyalty.              I've seen you stand with your own,
       in dignity,                               as calm as any priest or
       guardian of the flock,              and when your time
       of trouble came,            you stood outside the law
       right legally,                  and claim'd the wife beside
       you from her bane;                 courage alone, really,
       testing             the foundations of the wall though
       your friend the priest was hurt   you did not come
       to him,                        'I well remember, do you not?'

       Stooped now                as you were already twenty
       years ago:                                   still writing spiderly on
       thin blue paper,                        filling the pages with
       instruction's memory,             you mention Hanover
       and Jacobites:                        demonstrate honesty
       discretion and integrity                                         alive
       entries in that far                                ranging syllable
       of thought, your detailed mind;   to bring us back
       to the matter of the fence                    with friendly
       rectitude recalling                                as you do the

       last details of old                              family trials, while
       twenty miles from notes,                 denote the very
       bank to which you faxed relief           and touch on
       this will and an agreement:                           a gentle
       man in strength to humble    yourself before words
       and the word's meanings,        to base foundation
       for another thousand years                           interpret-
       ations on a simple fence:                    convey a tone,
       perfectly friendly,                                perfectly precise,
       and let the world know        the law stands with the

       widow and the orphan                         rank on rank of
       archived history where                                       arm¢rial
       banners snap as dawn                 rides up the hill with
       herald hooves         and this frail knight stands by me
       with a pen and book                      marshalled already
       without threat          by warning and admonishment.


(C) Copyright 1997
Alys Thorpe
All Rights Reserved