Denise Levertov




Crystal Night

From blacked-out streets
     (wide avenues swept by curfew,
     alleyways, veins
     of dark within dark)

from houses whose walls
     had for a long time known
the tense stretch of skin over bone
as their brick or stone listened—

                 The scream!
The awaited scream rises,
the shattering
of glass and the cracking
of bone

a polar tumult as when
black ice booms, knives
of ice and glass
splitting and splintering the silence into
innumerable screaming needles of
yes, now it is upon us, the jackboots
are running in spurts of
sudden blood-light through the
broken temples

the veils
ar rent in twain
terror has a white sound
every scream
of fear is a white needle freezing the eyes
the floodlights of their trucks throw
jets of white, their shouts
cleave the wholeness of darkness into
sectors of transparent white-clouded pantomime
where all that was awaited
is happening, it is Crystal Night

it is Crystal Night
these spikes which are not
pitched in the range of common hearing
whistle through time

smashing the windows of sleep and dream
smashing the windows of history
a witness scattering
in hailstones
each a mirror 
for man’s eyes.