Shreveport 1982: A downtown church on
Christmas eve, well loved, well cared for,
Worshippers in fine clothes crowd together
In the old walnut pews– it is too warm for furs:
Married daughters, handsome nephews
In from Houston, people we do not know:
Of all the places one could be this night,
As lonely as any bus station or manger.
But there is this:
The particular tears of Christmas,
The precise fragrances, the harmonies
That make it palpable,
That release memory’s stubborn catch
Differ for us each
And for every home far from home.
I hear the sound, thin and sweet,
O Holy Night,
Scored for the voices of teenaged girls,
The white light of candles
Dancing on their faces.
Raleigh 2008: There are twelve of us for
Christmas, three generations, ours the oldest.
A benign weariness:
Food and gifts, family jokes and tales,
Small stresses let quietly pass.
Cousins cavort, careen, compete.
Our daughters, friends too, consider vegetables;
Their husbands assemble a soccer goal
While the gravy cools.
As we are leaving, I think I see
Traces of a tear on Julie’s cheek;
Her smile lingers, quiet, faintly moist.
Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.
You can find more of Robert’s work here on Ink Pantry.