Poetry                  June & July
She Writes of Her Garden (June 1930)
My Grandmother writes of her garden
wallflowers & cornflowers
from early April showers
like beautiful wounds healing across the bed
from blue to purple to dark pink
to light pink to white
& then geraniums in May
But she cannot see the geraniums

She writes of her garden
from the cool of the cellar
where she cannot see zinnias explode
with life or blood-red roses
contrasting the portulacas’ flesh
An armoured vehicle is sowing shells
(not cockle shells) broken glass
between the rows of flowers

She writes of her garden
not so much of the British Consul
asking missionaries
south of the Yellow River
to evacuate to Hankow
but of yellow marigolds
& hollyhocks
& Japanese sunflowers for the house
D.S. Martin's poetry has appeared in such journals as The Cresset, First Things,
Christianity & Literature, Mars Hill Review, Queen's Quarterly and Rock &
.  His new chapbook, So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon
Press), is about his grandparents who were missionaries to China between 1923
and 1951.  It is available through his Web site, The following
poems are from the chapbook.
Three Poems 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 north stood 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 for the 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 a creeping rat seeking winter stores
Now the fiery serpent crosses the tracks   creeping like the plague

Down below lies the bomb that damaged the corner of the house
As we watch from the window of our room the lantern parade winds down toward the city   
Drums beating   beating   beating   from all directions at once
Sunday   I wheeled to an outstation for service
Tuesday   robbers came looking for the foreigner
but I’d returned to our sick daughter
Southern troops swarm toward us like a plague of frogs
The water has turned to blood

Friday   four in the morning
darkness was spread over the land   An explosion
lit up the countryside & wakened us
followed by something like rifle
& cannon fire   Believing
retreating forces had blown up the bridge
we carried the children down to the pantry
Scared servants came in & we prayed

At daybreak we heard
local soldiers had challenged Northern troops
retreating on a munitions train
Some gave up rifles
but the hard-hearted fired into exploding cars
The station’s a wreck   dead & wounded scattered about
beggars stealing grain   fifteen boxcars burning
A black banner rises like a murder of crows
a pillar of cloud
A PASSOVER (September 1926)
Yencheng, Honan, China
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