Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας. Luke 2:14
The cars race along like they’re at a track meet,
Everyone in a hurry. Six o’clock. People speed
Right past you, unseeing. Just like last year…
They forgot. And now have a million things to do.
Evening rain falls on their heads, reflected in street
And car lights. “What about something for that guy
At work? I think he said a hamper. What about my
Mother? Right, she said flowers. Dad? A mere
Grunt, said ‘Anything would be fine indeed.’
Cards for relatives I don’t see. Uhm, something new
For my ‘special’ someone. Her hints are oblique…
Something like this through every head,
Even the ones so far from God they don’t mean
To even pretend to care. How could He
Matter? The ‘merely’ secular has no room for mystique.
So why the fuss? Especially all those tacky signs.
Why the shopping & the hustle & the lines
And the sighs at the cash machine?
(“I should have gone to Wal-Mart instead.”)
And why, above all, why the sudden charity?
Anchors who sternly tell you about Unrest In
Pakistan pause, blink once or twice emotionally,
And then earnestly wish you the best of the season;
Stores play song after song celebrating the redeemer—
A man who would shut their business down within
Seconds. Even the beer companies get profound,
The tone subdued, ancient hymns thundering in the background.
In car ads, very briefly, the shilling stops for some reason,
As the couldn’t-be-happier mixed-race family
Stares & grins at the brand new Beemer.
And goodwill towards whom? Christmas,
Just like poetry, makes nothing happen.
We can sing carols all we want, & never cease,
But the men in caves will keep planning our death;
Nor does it end hate or bring even fleeting justice
To the near, far or middle east. Fear & war always prevailing
Over the child born in Palestine, his parents fleeing
Caesar. His beginning did not bring peace,
Nor did his end. We read that he was forsaken,
Asking the unanswerable with his last breath.
Still, even the atheist & agnostic treasure this time,
Their trees, like the devout, a spire of hope.
Something in the season grips us, despite
The shouting ads & clanging clichés, reindeer
And a little drummer who triumphs in rhyme,
Or Mommy kissing Santa Claus at half-past two.
On that late December night, the frost reaches you,
As your breath blooms clouds, almost white,
A clear full moon reflects on the steep slope
Of snowy streets. It stops you, the frozen sheer
Beauty. You turn the corner, & someone has dazzled
Their tall cedar; the blinking lights a symphony,
Sparkling, little bubbles of rhapsody, tiny stars,
Reminders of a love so perfect no hatred could destroy.
Rachel, you are a bliss slow unfurled;
You make the old new, & the new, bright;
You were there in the beginning, daily my delight.
I hear her, in the north, singing to the auroras,
Her soul an aria, fanfare & harmony,
As she repeats a sounding joy.