The knight walks along the deep brook
Nibbling at a rusted tiger-lily
Dragging his slipper through the grass
Where partridge are stilled, indistinguishable
From the dried cow manure.
The knight’s young page
Is back in the orchard, asleep on the earth:
The reins of a great horse are
Tied twice to his calf and ankle: the horse
Grazes dragging the dreaming boy
Through the yellowing fallen fruit of the orchard.
The knight and the boy both love
The lady in the tower above the gorge.
By dusk they will sit with her husband,
With a flacon of wine
And a standing rib in a platter of dark berries.
They will talk of the distant war
And of fealty to the lion.
Above them in the tower, the lady
With two girls attending
Washes her breasts and neck in lemon water.
She is holding a sponge from the Mediterranean.
At the table now the boy sleeps, the knight
Is unconscious with drink by the fire, and
The old man in the shadows, shaking daggers
From his wide sleeves, is their liege lord.
He is watching the airedales sniffing the young bitch
Who snarls and then whimpers off into the cooling kitchens.