Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve

I stand by the shell of a dive
That was one of my favorite places
And wait for the snow to arrive
While around me the lonely pieces
Of the city's splintered soul,
With a hermit's scarf on their faces
And their eyes on the ground or the goal,
Like bees from a shaken hive
Swarm through the electric cold.

Past windows that advertise
The price of the latest craze --
The toy that will always please,
The game that will always be played --
Pedestrians on the run
From the job that eats their days
Attack the streets and weave
In search of immediate fun
Like soldiers on short leave.

Armed to the teeth with intent,
Movement is what they are --
I can see them from where I stand
As they arrow past the bar --
The lords of a scurrying race
Who fill the seasonal streets
Day in and day out again --
Not motionless even in sleep;
A race of sharks, not men.

Now snowflakes feather the sky,
And swirl on the whips of the wind
Through canyons that preach the lie
Of civilization's thrust
And the worth of the marked-down buy --
The lie that goods which are sold
Or bought by the shopping cart
Will answer the needs of the soul
Or buy an unquestioning heart.

The truth is a quieter voice,
A whisper which softly sings
That winter was made to rejoice,
And babies are born to bring peace,
And people are worth more than things,
And none of us are alone --
Which we all must learn firsthand
Before our immigrant souls
Return to their native land.

By the light of a pagan tree,
In the heat of a candle's glow,
We are part of a common name
That atomized long ago --
The sparks of a broken flame
That burns for the oystered pearl,
That seeks by uncommon stars
For the leap of persistent joy
And the answer behind the world.

But no stars shine above  --
Just the obstinate distant glow
Of a gray and thoughtless heaven
Which I cannot confront or know --
And there are no easy answers,
Just people with hopes and fears
Who pass by each other blind
On the way to a warm lit room
In the lonely way of their kind.

In this age where we make ends meet
Between the push and the shove
And huddle like lambs in the night
And yearn for a gift from above
To fall, like the snow, at my feet,
We must each do what we can
In the teeth of the old year's death
To affirm the worth of man
And the fellowship of breath.

All we are is a storm --
Like snowflakes we meet the earth
With an individual kiss,
And together we pile and drift
Till the blizzard of our birth,
Like a long-discarded gift,
Is forgotten, and we grow gray
By the side of a shining road
Till we finally melt away.

All we have is a day
In the calendar of Time
To light an affirming flame
Beneath the seasonal dome
Of distant tinselled stars,
To make from this desert a home,
And do our daily part
To keep the soldiers of Rome
From conquering our hearts.

All I can do is my best
To candle against the night --
To swear by each morning sun
That all of us come from light,
So it's all of us or none --
And to stand each day I live
For the rules that I yearly believe
When I bravely play at love
On the day after Christmas Eve.

Copyright 2011 Matthew J Wells

No comments: