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POETRY LUCIA DAY / Judith Moffett Stockholm, 13 December Shadows of fat snowflakes whirl on snow under the streetlamps; Tm struggling up a drifted hill otherwise black as timeless at 6 a.m. Five floor high, Hennie releases the downstairs door with a magic button. Silver and porcelain shine round her special centerpiece of four thick white candles at a green wreath's cardinal points; more candles dartle everywhere, and tabletops, eyes, dozens of gleaming bibelots, polished coffee- and teapots, plates piled with the saffron whorls called lussekatter, with sliced stellen (Dutch Hennie was a girl in München) catch, hold, flash back candleflame highlights as in a still life by Vermeer. Dazzled, I stand my boots to melt in the hall. 6:30. Freddie wakes the TV set across whose screen unsteady lights become candles borne by a file of white-haired whiterobed children from a rural church-school choir. They wind toward the beautiful country home of the late painter Carl Larsson, in Dalarna in the dark North, singing in unison, like flutes, something familiar—a standard gondolier number, but with the fulsome Mediterranean in wholly Baltic straits. The boys with Starboy trappings—tall duncecaps, star-tipped Blue Fairy wands—are mere attendant lords for once; the girls go bareheaded, all but lucky Lucia, soloist in her prickly crown. She steps, the little flames bend back, elongate, smoke. She represents an eldest daughter making the rounds ofbedrooms long before daybreak, bearing her serving tray of cups and plates, coffee and lussekatter, singing the song. Her voice is true and clear. The Missouri Review · 7 Night stalks with heavy tread Barnyards and meadows, Round earth where sun has fled Brood the deep shadows. Then through our darkened homes, Tall candles lighted, comes Sankta Lu-see-a, Sankta Lucia. Freddie remarks that formerly Lucias used to burn like Christmas trees; their hair'd catch fire . . . nowadays the crowns come batterypowered . We feast by candelight while the snow flies. It wouldn't be light for hours, snow or no snow. Inside, the choir switches to carols now. When the show's over, I'll plow home in the dark. Later, crossing the park after a nap and a spate of work, I'll spot a girl of ten or so stomping along, the thin white gown she's wearing under her coat over her woollen snowpants bunching and clinging, crown in a paper bag. Four years ago this Volvo-headlit afternoon, caught in the subway's Central Station with a rowdy throng of Starboys and Lucias coming back from school Lucia parties, Hennie heard that welter of kids be stirred spontaneously into their corny song as by a wind across a cornfield, singing louder and louder, at last the whole hoard. Today, she tells me, most schools will stay shut; so many twelve-year olds were getting so drunk as those parties; but how I love to imagine that wide echoing steel-gray cave startling unSwedishly to the timbre of hundreds of trebles, words too sweet to believe: Darkness from dale and hill Soon shall be driven, So she a wonderful Promise has given. 8 · The Missouri Review Judith Moffett Soon, day anew shall rise Fair through the rosy skies: Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia. Judith Moffett The MISSOURI Review · 9 THE OLD COUNTRY / Judith Moffett for Dave Woodley Old Warden Airfield, England As a child I sometimes had this dream. I could fly. It was done by rhythmic undulations, my sleeping body become a thing of bouyancy and power— the Icarus-dream all children surely dream, soaring and falling. So Peter Pan; so Nils aboard his goose. If later this should endure and prove the one dream, as it did for you, there's the Air Force or private lessons: flight is a dream worth its weight in gold, but it comes true. Now below a dome of turbulence I watch an antique "aeroplane" made young again bank above me. The pilot, in helmet and Red Baron scarf, waves from the open cockpit. I don't wave back, my heart refusing to lift much even with those veteran wooden wings, or wings of fabric-covered metal; it positively quails as roaring midgets...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 5-11
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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