Christmas Lament

  I have another post that I was going to publish this week,
but Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school 
kind of shattered me, and I couldn't in good conscience move
forward on the blog without offering some kind of salute 
to the fallen. As a friend said on Friday, "Nothing to say,
but no way to say nothing." So here is my completely 
imperfect and inadequate offering. Note: although the poem 
is mostly a reflection on the slaughter of innocents, I 
included the shooter in the number of names, because the loss
of what his life might have been if he had gone a different
way is also a tragedy. I do not claim by including him that
I have forgiven him or in any way understand his actions, 
only that the loss of human potential is always tragic.

Christmas Lament


To the baby Jesus:
You, who gave yourself in
soft flesh,
helpless and grateful
to live in that singularly
limited and tender and
fragile and
infinite prism we call
a human life,
to suffer our pains and
rejoice in our rejoicings,
to eat and drink and sleep
and grow weary,
to give of yourself freely
to the very end,
surrendering your living nerves and
brittle limbs to the caustic lash,
the breaking hammer,
the slow choke,
to finally expire
blessing your torturers
and then
to rise again,
banishing death and
offering hope -

To you, Blessed One,
I bring tribute,
my hands full of my
shattered wealth, nothing left but
tears and words and
questions my tongue can't pronounce, and
a list
of twenty-eight names,
twenty of them the bubbling,
musical names of children,
babies like yourself,
tender and soft and broken and
infinite,
leaking through my fingers
like sand, lost.

I bring you
the absence of laughter
on the playground,
and the pencil stubs
and fractured crayons
abandoned on the floor.

I bring you the
phantom hugs and
slippery kisses
missing now from the days.

I bring you the
little bodies, who touched
and tasted and
squabbled and reached and
stumbled and now
lie still.

I bring you hopes
and dreams, severed from
their timeline, tied and
floating freely like a
bouquet of bright helium balloons.

I bring you the parents,
spirits riven,
itching to peel their skin off,
to be someone else,
something else,
anything else.

I bring you the inarticulate
keening of a people
heartbroken and confused,
which cannot rise even
from the dust
so weighted is it with grief
choking on its own sorrow.
There are no words to explain this.
There is no prayer to pray.
I have nothing of value to give and so
I bring this
worthless poem
barbed with anger, mangled,
parched, unyielding and
unlovely,
whispered for all who suffer and die
and are silenced too soon.
I come, a ragged and 
impoverished mourner, and
lay these shards at your feet.
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5 Comments

Filed under creative writing, personal, poetry, religion

5 responses to “Christmas Lament

  1. I think this captures the meaning of Christmas perfectly.

    Tim

  2. I am sorry I missed group that Sunday.
    I am grateful for this.

  3. i don’t really have words to describe this. perhaps that’s the best way of saying, “thanks for sharing.”

  4. Pingback: Christmas Lament | while waiting

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