The Common Good
November-December 1999

Carol of Brother Ass

by Vassar Miller | November-December 1999

In the barnyard of my bone
Let the animals kneel down...

In the barnyard of my bone
Let the animals kneel down—
Neither ecstasy nor anger,
Wrath nor mildness need hide longer,
On the branching veins together
Dove may sing with hawk her brother.

Let the river of my blood
Turned by star to golden flood
Be the wholesome radiance
Where the subtle fish may dance,
Where the only bait to bite
Dangles from the lures of light.

Let the deep angelic strain
Pierce the hollows of my brain;
Struck for want of better bell,
Every nerve grows musical;
Make my thews and sinews hum
And my tautened skin a drum.


Bend, astonished, haughty head
Ringing with the shepherds’ tread;
Heart, suspended, rib to rib,
Rock the Christ Child in your crib,
Till so hidden, Love afresh
Lovely walks the world in flesh.

VASSAR MILLER, the author of eight volumes of poetry, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was twice poet laureate of Texas. Disabled by cerebral palsy since birth, Miller was editor of Despite This Flesh, an anthology of poetry and stories about the disabled. She died in 1998 at age 74. This poem is reprinted from If I Had Wheels or Love: Collected Poems of Vassar Miller with permission of Southern Methodist University Press.

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