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IV The Ivory Steeple

James Reaney


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The Oracular Portcullis

Illyria’s hair fell down
Like a long golden answer
To a question in long division.
Gradually she let her saucer down
Crushing the invisible column
Of time and space beneath
Into a gently wounded saucer
And slowly the white portcullis rose,
The cruel ivory portcullis of her mouth
That had closed on both victims and visitors:
Many poached eggs and pices of toast,
Duchess of Oldenburg apples,
And oceans of broth and soup.
Slowly Illyria made
Her delirious epigram:
“It is surely a well-known fact,
My dear,
That women are concave,
And men are convex?”
Thus spake Illyria; this question she posed,
Then quite quickly her portcullis closed.