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JONKER, Ingrid

25 December 1960

Ward one-hundred-and-thirty in the passage on the right.

It’s five in the morning for the milk-cart

has gone with its horses, eyes gleaming

in the bayonets of the street lights.

The twenty-fifth of December nineteen-sixty.

The children sleep

in Christmas stockings between satellites

hobby-horses, revolvers and toffees

Sleep, before the sirens of the sun

before the bombers which are butterflies

sleep in your Christmas stockings and candles.

On Hospital Hill stands a blazing tree.

Ward one-hundred-and-thirty in the passage on the right.

“Sure he drank a bottle of brandy

and lay hours in an oxygen tent.

You know he was an alcoholic from

his first glass.” (Look, the gleam

of day’s bright gun-barrel aims over the city!)

“A yes but, he once said himself

he had a harking after his dead God.

His final words? No

he just lay quiet, and with eyes wide.”

Ward one-hundred-and-thirty. He has been

attended to, eyes closed, hands already folded,

the whole of the room like an upraised shield.

And on the window-sill and against the light

the mantis in unending prayer.