The Transfixed

The Transfixed

Black in
the snow and fog,

at the great lighted airshaft, their bums rounded,

on their knees, five little ones – what anguish! –

watch the baker making the heavy white bread.

They see the strong white arm that shapes

the grey dough and sets it to bake in a bright hole.

They listen to the good bread cooking.

The Baker with his fat smile hums an old tune.

They are huddled together, not one of them moves,

in the waft of air from the red vent, warm as a breakfast.

And when, for some midnight breakfast,

plaited like a brioche, the bread is taken out;

When, under the smoky beams, the fragrant crusts hiss,

and the crickets sing; how this warm hole breathes life!

Their souls are so ravished under their rags,

They feel life so strong in them, poor frozen Jesuses,

that they all stay, sticking their little pink snouts

against the wire netting, grunting things through the holes,

quite stupid, saying their prayers, and bending down

towards those lights of opened heaven so hard,

they split their trousers, and their shirt tails flutter in the winter

20 September