Prose Fragments in a Cigar Box
Aunt Vie had blue mirrors in her house
and a mohair sofa with her imprint on the center cushion.
I used to stay over on Saturday nights
to make puppets with Uncle Bill’s socks
and drink Ovaltine from a Captain Video space mug.
A Christmas ornament sent from France by Uncle Bill
arrived broken in 1941.
The pieces stay in a Dutch Masters box on the mantel.
I wonder how it must have looked once.
On summer evenings Aunt Vie would
drop READERS DIGEST down the stairwell
at Benny, her Cocker Spaniel,
when he wouldn’t stop barking at the crickets.
There is a picture (double exposure) of her and Benny and me
on a porch swing near lilac bushes not in bloom.
There are two of me pressed together
from different times.
One of me is lost forever,
but the other imagines still
how broken pieces may yet fit together
into some bright star at the top of a tree
for all Decembers that remain.
that streaks the sky before nightfall
that frames a few last birds on the terrace
among hieroglyphs of tracks and seed
The year shrinks toward December’s final day,
and hours flutter by like oak leaves
blown through an open church door,
caught somehow in that little purgatorial space
of gray stone walls from an immutable past.
In the sanctuary a counterpoint of carols and
whispers of children awed by clusters of candles
weaves its own music through fragrant cedar boughs
punctuated by holly berries and bittersweet.
On the chancel a living creche breathes
in young Mr. and Mrs. Barton and their infant son
among cardboard sheep and oxen,
the sleeping child in a crib of hay
on a hidden layer of paper towels.
All are silent now except for winter wind
and a prayer shared by so many,
that peace will find its way
into that quiet place deep within us all
where hope remains always the last gift
to be opened, a gift to begin
that first January morning, brilliantly cold,
when snow blinds us into sight once more.