writer’s note: My offering for this advent season is a poem that’s not about snow or a black sky pricked with starlight or a stable with cattle hanging about the edges. It’s a tropical piece that comes straight out of the Caribbean; a humorous and heavy composition that recounts two or three of the fifty thousand steps I’ve been passing through on my way to an understanding of the ineffable divine. It’s a poem about the restless entitlement earthly dads can exhibit and the humble cheer that characterizes the heavenly one. And at its core, it’s a poem about Christmas, leaning heavily into the brave assertion G.K. Chesterton made in his own Christmas poetry: that the midst of the earth is a raging mirth / And the heart of the earth a star.
Here, as everywhere, they seem to pursue us.
The pitch and toss of a day is too much for
them, even a day delectable with seafoam
and shine and the Shots Guy going from table
to table after dinner, flourishing a platter
of sparkle and burn–their favorite things.
On the ship’s tender a human tornado briefs
his whole timid family on the storm he’s
preparing. When I get up, you jump up, you
follow me, he rumbles. He ain’t gon’ wait in
no line. Is he a man that he should practice
patience and perspicacity? No. He is blizzard
and typhoon and maelstrom and mad [at
other people for existing and at the Italian
restaurant that can’t seat him yet because
all their servers are serving]. Don’t paint God
with this brush and expect the gallery to be
full of heart and hush. We’ve spent enough
time behind the thin doors of shuddering
closets, willing the hinges to hold. No, if I
dared to paint again, I know just the man
I would use for my sable bristles. He dips
himself in so many hues of happiness, peers
into my eyes all the time to ask isn’t this good?
He is a flying buttress, a buttered pancake,
a thing you can’t regret. He is splattered
to the eyebrows with cyan, magenta and joy.
The featured image titled “Dancing Bears” is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with her glad permission for The Cultivating Project.