The first warm day, and by mid-afternoon the snow is no more than a washing strewn over the yards, the bedding rolled in knots and leaking water, the white shirts lying under the evergreens. Through the heaviest drifts rise autumn’s fallen bicycles, small carnivals of paint and chrome, the Octopus and Tilt-A-Whirl beginning to turn in the sun. Now children, stiffened by winter and dressed, somehow, like old men, mutter and bend to the work of building dams. But such a spring is brief; by five o’clock the chill of sundown, darkness, the blue TVs flashing like storms in the picture windows, the yards gone gray, the wet dogs barking at nothing. Far off across the cornfields staked for streets and sewers, the body of a farmer missing since fall will show up in his garden tomorrow, as unexpected as a tulip.
Shut out the light or let it filter through These frowning aisles as penitentially As though it walked in sackcloth. Let it be Laid at the feet of all that ever grew Twisted and false, like this rococo shrine Where cupids smirk from candy clouds and where The Lord, with polished nails and perfumed hair, Performs a parody of the divine.
The candles hiss; the organ-pedals storm; Writhing and dark, the columns leave the earth To find a lonelier and darker height. The church grows dingy while the human swarm Struggles against the impenitent body’s mirth. Ashes to ashes. . . . Go. . . . Shut out the light.
And so the light runs laughing from the town, Pulling the sun with him along the roads That shed their muddy rivers as he goads Each blade of grass the ice had flattened down. At every empty bush he stops to fling Handfuls of birds with green and yellow throats; While even the hens, uncertain of their notes, Stir rusty vowels in attempts to sing.
He daubs the chestnut-tips with sudden reds And throws an olive blush on naked hills That hoped, somehow, to keep themselves in white. Who calls for sackcloth now? He leaps and spreads A carnival of color, gladly spills His blood: the resurrection—and the light.