The Needle


This is a tiny needlehead of time -
Pure, minute as a geometric,
As a flake of ice transfixed,
A crisp, living thing.
Outside the white mounds glisten -
Every tree a Christmas tree
Every bush a sheep -
There are no footprints there
To mar the spotless wastes of grass
And heather covered over -
All the purple stained to white.

A mistle-thrush concentrates on the sun,
Puffs-up its speckled chest to the sun,
Draws what heat it can.

The slanting sun is violent,
An orange rush of arms
Streaks the lilac sky -
We breathe in temperatures 
That crackle and drop steadily.
The air is sucked-in on itself, space spreads,
And out across the stillness and the silence
Coldness is a place, a vastness
Of clarity: sound leaps easily,
Sustains itself far on its ringing.

And all the lines are down,
All the tracks are iced,
All the cars are stuck in drifts that make them
Shapeless and obsolete.

In candlelight, huddled people softly talk
And laugh, discover an ancestral past
And warm their hands at it -
Grateful for the one sole thing
Keeping them alive:
Primeval thing
Dancing in their eyes.

TVs and houses
Long since abandoned to the white,
The women hug their babies
Whose faces are all


This needle is tiny, upright, straight
And true -
A brilliant midnight blue
A cold thin line
Of perfection in the eye
And through that tiny oval gap
I see you:

Your footsteps have echoed
Large across my heart's wastes,
Spread across the caverns of my time,
Rebounded in my mind's recesses -
The many floors you walk upon.

Your chalk mark scores
The territory you now claim
As yours -
Your lines are white and thick
And they trespass -
Avidly a score of crosses
Fruit and forest
All my space.

Outside all is white and still and chaste ...
Inside here - the table laid,
The books are shut,
The fire's heart glows - living dynamo -
And the room turns crimson
As I clip my wings on
And it begins to snow.

This one Christmastime
Is all that beauty knows.
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