On Sat, 7 Jun 1997, Finn MacCool wrote:
> Though not the season, there is always Dylan Thomas's A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS
> IN WALES.
A good thing to read on a hot day, when the river is flooding...
"Can the fishes see it's snowing?"
The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea.
Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the
north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks
round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us,
baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the
poor streets where only a few children fumbled
with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow
and cat-called after us, their voices fading away,
as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock
birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling
bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would
be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of
the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced
her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.
Bring out the tall tales now that we told
by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver.
Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights
when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals
lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs where the
gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went
singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving
of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end
of a long road was a drive that led to a large
house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive
that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding
a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave
to say a word. The wind through the trees
made moises as of old and unpleasant and maybe
webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached
the black bulk of the house.
"What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"
"No," Jack said, "Good King Wenceslas.
I'll count three."
One, two, three, and we began to sing,
our voices high and seemingly distant in the
snow-felted darkness round the house that
was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood
close together, near the dark door.
"Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen..."
And then a small, dry voice, like the voice
of someone who has not spoken for a long time,
joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice
from the other side of the door: a small dry voice
through the keyhole. And when we stopped running
we were outside our house; the front room was lovely;
balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping
gas; everything was good again and shone
over the town.
"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said.
"Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said,
who was always reading.
"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left,"
Jack said. And we did that.