Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Noel, Noelle

As I wrote here in April, 2008, I found this poem in a drawer a while back. I don't remember when I wrote it, but it must have been a long, long time ago. It's pleasant to observe that my facility with blank verse has improved: this seems stiff to me, and the blank verse I write now is more limber--it can do tricks up on the balance beam that this can't. On the other hand, I'm also pleased to find "Under the snow the dead are staying dead/again this year," lines I've often quoted without remembering that I was the one who wrote them. And "eponymous" found another, better home in "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."

You claim that you live in Montana, somewhere
undisclosed but big, since it is Montana,
with dogs of course, under eponymous
big skies. It may be like The Ponderosa.
It may be just a little 50's house,
brick and right angles, all the rooms too small
for all the children's scheduled occupation.

Regardless, this is where you claim to be,
vacuuming dogs, shampooing your fiancé,
writing good prose, and waiting for the eve
of someone's savior's birth to change your world.
The eve will come, if not the savior.
Under the snow the dead are staying dead
again this year. Achieving the right tone

to talk about the still dead dead would tax
the festive certitude of anyone.
Your coming roster of visiting kin,
expecting nogs and cakes, presents and pizza,
won't want to hear about your doubts. They know
what Santa does and what he never says.
They like a creche. They like a mistletoe

above their heads, a Baldur's dart. You can
foretell what's coming, you and absent friends,
alone in your fashed kitchen, late late night,
toasting a yule, whatever yules may be.
The dogs asleep and snoring, dreaming dog,
you in your underwear and hoisting bourbon,
know what you know and not a nickel more.

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