(Dear readers: Curator Bachmann froze off three of his fingers this month while in pursuit of a deadly sort of child who pulls winter around itself like a cloak and wanders the deep forests of Kazakhstan. He therefor opted to give you a poem instead. He is not a poet, but he hopes you will forgive him this deficit. And now, all of us at the Cabinet wish you very happy and curious holidays.)
Do you hear them in the moonlight—
Hear their footsteps in the dark?
Seven voices deep as thunder,
Seven faces split like bark.
They wear cloaks as red as berries,
And their eyes are black as night,
They have bells upon their fingertips
That glimmer cold and bright.
They have come to sing a carol,
Sing it right into your ear,
In their misty, twisty voices,
Deep as thunder, dark as fear.
It will start quite soft, like velvet,
‘T’will be cold as any snow.
It will whisper up the staircase
And slip underneath your door.
And then all at once they’ll shriek it,
And you’ll hear it in your dreams.
And you’ll have a little heart-attack;
You’ll wake up with a scream. . . .
For their song, it sounds of stealing,
And of empty living rooms,
And of broken, torn-up presents,
And of trees, like twiggy brooms.
They are singing on the street now.
They are gliding down the way.
Silent footsteps in the moonlight,
Sending snow up in a spray.
They are floating at your window;
See their hands against the glass.
They are coming! They are coming!
Pull the covers, pull them fast!
But wait, fear not, they won’t come in.
They’re not allowed, you see:
For there’s a little mistletoe
To guard the room for me.
The carolers will glimpse it,
And will hiss and swoop away.
They’ll find another child to haunt,
Another place to stay.
For where houses glow with kindness,
And with laughter and with light,
There the presents will stay lovely,
Through the long and wintry night.
But where houses drip with sadness
Brim with anger and regret,
There the carolers come singing,
And turn everything a wreck.
All the fancy little baubles
And the wind-up type-machine
Will be corkscrews and be coal-dust
By the sun’s next golden beam.
So then when you hear the tinkle
Of their gleaming finger-bells,
And the carolers are near you,
Though no one ever tells. . . .
You can smile a little secret
And curl up into a ball,
And can sleep ’til Christmas morning
And you need not wake at all.