Poetry Porch: Poetry


Key to the Kingdom 

by Peter Anderson 

For Phoenix Quin

The child has dark eyes, and a shy way
Of putting her head to the shoulder of the worried
Rescue worker, who tries to explain to camera
That the mother is dead, the father is dead, the gunmen
Unknown, but they shot up the party, the Christmas
Party, the same night I was at Carols by Candlelight
In the park with my children on my knees, and my wife
Said to me: “It takes you back to your own childhood,
Doesn’t it?” As the Salvation Army raised
Their splendid brass in the rain, behind them
The lake, brilliant, and with dark lights shaking
Across it, and the minister, who had exactly
My name, proclaimed through the whoop
And whistle of a microphone that the child
In us held the key, the key to the kingdom,
And if only we would kneel with him there
And repent right then, he would guarantee us all
Peace on earth and goodwill to men. But the child
In me looks now at the child with gleaming eyes
Whose parents have been shot by “unknown assailants,”
And I know now that Christ was no better than
This child, and this world shall be changed for her sake.

Copyright © 2000 by Peter Anderson.
Reprinted from Vanishing Ground by Peter Anderson, with the permission of  Quartz Press, Republic of South Africa.