Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, December 10, 2004

Yule Blues (Dec. 10, 2004)

Sometimes this season
is pure blues, yuletide
spirits like iced vodka
sliding down the hourglass
into mouths expecting
oblivion in lieu of
those forever lost
sugarplums in a life’s
acquired tasted for
ruin. My wife worked
for two days assembling
20 holiday sachets,
embroidering a
Christmas pattern
on each & then stuffing
‘em with jasmine
potpourri, trying
to market them at
a holiday event a
friend invited her
to. She came home
last night not having
sold a one, all that
time wasted and
the money we so
needed denied
and an awful hammer
knocking her down
just when she could
use some confirmation
that her dream of
selling embroidered
fabrics will make good.
Nothing to do but
hug her and say
they were just hicks,
make a salad & order
pizza and let it go
watching recorded
episodes of “The King
of Queens” in a
living room now bright
with the tinkly lights
of our Christmas tree.
And sigh, and yawn,
and head to bed. I
dreamed of a long walk
down and up some
present and past
avenue, at first a local
stretch, like the Orange
Blossom Trail I ride
to work on every day,
a road which cuts
through the heart of
this heated land
I chose to live in
long ago; and then
I walked back the
other way, north
and homeward, in
what seemed like
Scotland, the streets
and hamlets named
in a Gaelic sounding
tongue, the sense of
things more primal,
Formorian, the closer
I got to home. At last
it seemed like I
was watching all
with underwater eyes,
a sort of infrared
exposure which viewed
my plebian afternoon’s
trudge from 5 fathoms
under all, the strip malls
and shuttered houses warm
with that otherworldly glow
which warms the sockets
of every interred skulls.
And then the alarm was
pinging, pinging, hauling
me up to my day’s launch
at 4 a.m., a restless,
still-warm wind auguring
a cold front in the
opened windows of
our upstairs bedroom,
my wife sleeping oddly
above the covers, as if
the hot flashes were
at it again with their
caustic moods, as if
our life was drowning
her. Nothing to do but
kiss her on that fretted
sleep-tossed brow
and get up to mend
things here as best
and only I know how.
All dark now outside,
the Christmas lights
long off, the faintest
high rustling of traffic
on the Trail carried
on a muscular tide
of breeze, the hard day
ahead and Bush still
in office, the mortgage
payment due and
not much left after
that for the rest of
our Christmas spending
and small comfort to
be found anywhere
in today’s vowel
movement. Thank God
I know in my bones
that booze would only
make the mess abysmal:
so wrap up this poem
matey, and heave off
from its sad shore.
There’s so much work
to do to earn those
insufficient funds, to
love the leakage
and its spoor, and light
again come dusk
those starry Christmas
lights on the tree
in the garden and in
our house -- lights
so eager and hopeful for
that problematical
Christ child’s first cry
and all the days to
walk before we, my
love, die. Yet what abundance,
what great wealth
we find right here
in stroking our cats
so, their heads lifted
in sweet pleasure and
hunger for the food
which follows. Luckily
we have so much of
what we love that
there’s small need
to find it under that
tree, having given
it to ourselves with
work we love to do,
and daily trying to
live the impossibly
underwater way, where
worth is work and
love is pay and every
song and embroidered
fabric counts no
matter what those
chilling Yuletide spirits
say out on the breeze
which brings the
next cold front our way.


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