Read a Poem

Return to this page each month for a different poem by D.S. Martin.

THE MISSION HOUSE (Lunar New Year 1948)

Shangjao, Kiangsi, China

When I saw Shangjao for the first time --the mission house was clearly visible

over the city wall --& Spirit Mountain to the northstood out in the afternoon sun

my train clacking to the end of the line

Lost trains echo through the compound’s central-courtyard

confused among the porticos as though looking forthe tracks

to Nanchang --destroyed by war

Drums now pick up the rhythm --as we watch from the window of our room

We were wakened the other night here by acreeping rat seeking winter stores

Now the fiery serpent crosses the trackscreeping --like the plague

Down below lies the bomb that damaged thecorner of the house

As we watch from the window of our room thelantern parade winds down toward the city

Drums beating --beating --beating --from all-directions at once

— D.S. Martin

(This poem first appeared in Canadian Literature)