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.