When snow is shaken From the balsam trees And they’re cut down And brought into our houses When clustered sparks Of many-colored fire Appear at night In ordinary windows We hear and sing The customary carols They bring us ragged miracles And hay and candles And flowering weeds of poetry That are loved all the more Because they are so common But there are carols That carry phrases Of the haunting music Of the other world A music wild and dangerous As a prophet’s message Or the fresh truth of children Who though they come to us From our own bodies Are altogether new With their small limbs And birdlike voices They look at us With their clear eyes And ask the piercing questions God alone can answer.Note: A recitation can be heard here.
- Mark Olival-Bartley
- Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson’s sonnets for his dissertation at Amerika Institut of LMU Munich, where also he edits a poetry weekly. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor of Review of International American Studies.
by Anne Porter