Momentarily blinded by the light of the star
Shining down on me from the Walmart sign
I gather my courage, enter in
Where has my heart led me, again this year?
Looking, as ever, for that one perfect gift
Will it make someone happy?
Knowing only love would lead me here
This day of all days
Searching out that long-awaited, eagerly anticipated
Representation of love
For what else is a gift, any gift
Freely (or expensively) given?
Socks, slippers, this year’s fought-over Furby
Yet there is love even here, even at Walmart
One more shopping day before Christmas
I know Christ died
That things are only things
Grass fading, flowers falling
But today, this day made for man
I will be battered and bumped
I will seek and not find
I will wish for something simpler
A little more real
All the time picturing
Little boy Jesus
Playing with Myrrh
Wishing for a bicycle
You see the world from here, atop your rock,
Spread wide before you in the summer haze.
So guard this memory, and pray it stays
To comfort you, when like a rust-bound lock,
Time’s distance bars this beauty from your sight
And you must dwell below, confined to earth.
I cannot measure what your heaven’s worth:
Though swearing not to leave without a fight,
Yet you’ll go quietly, and quiet weep
For days spent far from home, and endless nights
Spent staring, not at stars, but at the clock
In some hotel room, wishing you could sleep.
No earthly peace awaits, where you must fall;
You’ll carry it within, or not at all.
Round, heavy, cold in my hand
One Rhodesian shilling
Smooth in my hand, cold
The classroom bustles around me
Harvey’s coin collection
Brought to school for show and tell
Spilled across the floor
Six kids around sets of three tables
Harvey sat at the end of our set
The coins spilled under our table
I don’t know why I took it
Held it, kept it, pretended not to know
When the teacher offered amnesty
I was terrified, guilty, full of shame
I hid the coin, in a pocket, in a drawer
Tried to forget, and often did
Now and again I still find it
In a box in the garage
Because I still keep it
Because what else can I do?
Facebook has far too many
If I’m remembering right
If it was his collection after all
And not the tall, blond boy
Whose name I can’t recall
Thinking it over, it might have been
But in my mind, it’s always
Hot-headed, stubborn, fast-talking
That way he leaned in when he argued
Elbows bent, hands pointed forward
I’m not sure he ever noticed me
I’m not sure I ever knew
Why I watched him
Why I stole his coin
Round and heavy
Cold in my hand
The smell of blood is a cast-iron skillet
Salted clean, ready for oil
Our parents preferred non-stick pans
Free love, if they could afford it
We put our kids in “back to basics”
We sign up for war
We cook with cast-iron
The bruises are almost gone now;
those were not your fault.
My too-thin skin betrayed me once again,
and kind fingers left unkind marks.
“Pea Princess” you called me;
I’ll bet you don’t remember.
I never forget anything:
Each word, each look,
each touch, the rarest gift.
Everything of mine that once was yours
I know and keep by heart.
But now and then I do forget:
my self, my pride,
tomorrows and yesterday.
All that’s me can disappear,
in your kind and unkind eyes.
Some bruises last longer than others.