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Experiment 7

The Black King

page 32

The Black King.

Ask of the black one; leave the others be -
their gifts of gold and frankincense are rich
hut not so lasting. Ask of the black one - he
is not so sought for; children fear to touch
his robe because he looks so fierce, because he hides
a bitter gum to seal all speech and make opaque
those eyes where they saw sunlight stored inside.
Do not heed these tales but ask him quick
before he rides away. He'll bring the star you want
to stay forever reigning on the Christmas tree
so no-one can take down. He'll bring the toy you can't
destroy, which broken bent reforms repeatedly.
Ask of the black one. Close your eyelids tightly,
lock inside the precious sunlight stored all day:
you may dream his journey further nightly,
you may give him sight enough to find the way.
Dream of the black one; dream of him coming blind
till lightning spreads its roots and trees of thunder
open their leaves as if they stored the sound
of twelfth night drummers sent proclaiming wonder
to wake a sleeping town. Dream of the black one
who only comes if you are really sleeping,
whose robe is ample; he won't mind you keeping
the tatter from the window sash where he has gone,
dark with the colour of blood, strong with the scent of gum.