by Christopher Raley,
who tried to write a pleasant Christmas poem
and ended up with this.
Let a bow be for the angel,
indistinct in all but shape, and white.
She receives the tree
and her skirt entwines
brown and green limbs.
Let a bow be for the savior
ungraven and possessed of no stasis,
red and small on the top of presents.
He reigns in the shadows
covering hopes and desires
to be revealed perhaps but never owned.
I wish I could write Merry Christmas
in the form and feel of the angel we raise up.
But I can’t forget that life came for death,
that the baby was wrapped in a burial shroud,
and that we too shine brightest
when wrapped in grief.
So let Christmas be what it is:
pagans and saints drinking together,
falling asleep in one another’s arms
on the eve of waking up
to what cannot be given back.
But let us now (and on all days)
choose both who we are
and what we conceal
before we loose our hearts
to paper and ribbon,
before the baby returns a king
with judgement in his hands.