|A good poem on a bad day|
I have been posting poems on Friday evenings for the past few weeks. Despite my foul mood, I will not disappoint any of my disciples who have tuned in for a poetry fix. This poem is by Madeleine L'Engle (yes, she of A Wrinkle in Time fame) and comes from her collection of verse titled A Cry Like a Bell. It's a Christmas poem, because I'm trying to rekindle my yuletide spirit. While I don't think L'Engle is a great poet, she has her moments. The poem below is one of those moments.
Saint Marty is going to have some liquor spiked with eggnog now.
The Bethlehem explosion
And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And Joseph also went up from Galilee . . . to be taxed, with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2:1, 4-5
The chemistry lab at school
was in an old greenhouse
surrounded by ancient live oaks
garnished with Spanish moss.
The experiment I remember best
was pouring a quart of clear fluid
into a glass jar, and dropping into it,
grain by grain, salt-sized crystals,
until they layered
like white sand on the floor of the jar.
One more grain--and suddenly--
water and crystal burst
into a living, moving pattern,
a silent, quietly violent explosion.
The teacher told us that only when
we supersaturated the solution,
would come the precipitation.
The little town
was like the glass jar in our lab.
One by one they came, grain by grain,
all those of the house of David,
like grains of sand to be counted.
The inn was full. When Jospeh knocked,
his wife was already in labour; there was no room
even for compassion. Until the barn was offered.
That was the precipitating factor. A child was born,
and the pattern changed forever, the cosmos
shaken with that silent explosion.