Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas poems

I recently finished a "10/10"  -- ten poems in ten days, on the Writers Anonymous site on Press 1.  Three other poets were writing along with me.   Since it was Winter Solstice, and so close to Christmas, many of the poems reflect that theme.  I began to take some favorite lines from Christmas carols and spin some poems off them.
Here are several:

   Approaching the Dark

Approaching the dark,
I consider the ladybug
traversing my copybook,
ardent-hearted red,
looking for a place to spend the winter
who must view the edge of the desk
as the Grand Canyon,
but who can fly
to the radiator
to the icy marble windowsill
where the sky turns dianthus pink
looking for a place to spend the winter


Always we are following a light

Always we are following a light.
It draws the eye, the light in the window
of the house in the distance
aacross the dark meadow
at the end of a dark lane.
Snowflakes catch the headlights
on a road where the shoulder shrugs and
disappears into the blizzard’s buzzard boast.
The small flame on the candle in the clear glass vigil
flickering at the feet of our Lady of Chartres,
only light I see
from the other side of the room.

Late in time, behold him come

Late in time, behold him come.
Not the Christmas child
but my homesick student
early balding boy, shy , tall,
missing from class since Halloween,
arrives on exam day to see if it’s too late
to drop the class
and the other classes, too.
What has he been doing in these busy weeks
as rainy fall turned into
clotted winter,
so far away from family,
on the side of this brown mountain?
What will he tell that furious father
or the grandfather
whose name is on the School of Business?

Nuns Decorating Their Christmas Tree

Richer by far is the heart’s adoration…

It’s a fake tree, safer for the giant convent
Where so many old sisters lie helpless in bed.
We’re in another wing, still working,
Still mobile, lucid, continent,
Though our young women live far south
In houses in poor neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, we decorate the fake tree
Already festooned with lights by the
Maintenance men.
We bring out those shiny brites
from the fifties,
wondering which of our sisters,
now dead, purchased them
in some long ago Woolworths.

We bring out our family heirlooms,
ornaments from our trees at home
hung by us as little girls
long before we joined this
We bring out bells and angels
from our siblings,
Redbirds and partridges.
Everyone comes with her Christmas
from home
which we join with our convent Christmases.

Together, together,
with stories of our Christmases as young nuns,
cutting down the tree, anchoring it in place,
when the aromatic presence
caused our hearts  lilting love.

And still, through cloven skies they come

In the full moon’s glare, the sky’s lit up with clouds
fluffy and definite as clover,
they scud and trip, pretending  to be close
when no one’s angels pass between their cracks
where mice can pass through cracks as fine as fingernails
the cloven hooves of horses, cows and goats
the clouds resemble
where the angels enter the world
like young nuns coming from their cloister
into the sunlight.

Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing

When I first learned to play the piano,
in the piano rooms at school,
not having a piano at home,
first learned to read music,
I bought a book of Christmas carols,
seeking out the ones I never heard
but liked the lyrics. Liked the titles:

The Holly and the Ivy
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
The Coventry Carol
The Cherry Tree Carol
Once in Royal David's City...

I’d read the music , try to sing the melody,
but having no piano
and no memory of the tune,
no idea of the timing,
I’d give up and go back to

Silent Night.

Vainly we offer each ample oblation
All over America,
  in thousands of KMarts,
anonymous donors are paying off
the balance of layaway accounts.
Fifty dollars here,
Two hundred there,
so people with no credit but love
 can release
 their children’s Christmas toys
from captivity.

1 comment:

Philosopher said...

Nice One.

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