Babette Deutsch

1895 - 1982


Once it was packed like a box with the toys of childhood,
Even the largest dolls grown small and familiar,
And the cuckoo clock saying,
"Tomorrow, tomorrow."
Once it was sad and comic like Mr. Punch,
And events jumped up, like Judy, to be whacked
Over the head, and the greatest kings, like actors,
Were happily at once dead and alive.
Once it was apart
As a crumbled castle on a darkening slope
Half seen from the express.
But whether it was tall as towers or
Tumbled with playthings on the nursery floor,
It was remote and faithful.

Coming too close
Is monstrous, like a doll
That is alive and bigger than the child
Who tries to hold it.
It is a clock that tolls the thirteenth hour.
It is a theatre
On fire.
Our history
Images not the castle but the train
Emerging from the tunnel, ruining
Down the embankment toward the modest station,
Where it will lie like a box of toys, broken,
Unpacked in vain.
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