Winter 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1962 |

Pictures in a Bible

Behind the inn a bird-robbed field That never served for root or flower. Then, further back, dark slats of barn. Bare bird winging, crying, peeled, Rare white star above gray field, To herald out messiah's flesh—or warn: Cold hot Jesus hot upon his hour. To the frightened girl the fact is power. And Joseph? New-made father, blessed In dance behind the peeling barn While puzzled functionaries kneel, Glimpse white mouth at milkless breast And think the course of leaving best. "A Greekish god, the leching dove did wheel Upon this girl and snick his feeble yarn To make our coming hence before this barn." "Just as we know the owl is wild—Though merely hissing in its sleep It sweeps the swallow from the sky—Just so we should beware this child." And still they kneel, their knees beguiled By warning in the heavy baby's eye. The shepherds keeping silence silent keep To listen for a wolf among their sheep. Now Joseph, blue now in the night, His hands along his ancient thighs

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