by Robert Pinsky
“At the bad time, nothing betrays outwardly the harsh findings,
The studies and hospital records. Carols play.
Sitting upright in the transit system, the widow-like women
Wait, hands folded in their laps, as monumental as bread.
In the shopping center lots, lights mounted on cold standards
Tower and stir, condensing the blue vapour
Of the stars; between the rows of cars people in coats walk
Bundling packages in their arms or holding the hands of children.
Across the highway, where a town thickens by the tracks
With stores open late and creches in front of the churches,
Even in the bars a businesslike set of the face keeps off
The nostalgic pitfall of the carols, tugging. In bed,
How low and still the people lie, some awake, holding the carols
Consciously at bay, Oh Little Town, enveloped in unease.”