On Trying to Write a Christmas Poem
by Claudia Lehman
There’s nothing left to say that’s not been said
a hundred times before by better tongues
or fingers than my own, and maybe yours.
No songs to sing that haven’t yet been sung
by choirs and soloists and saxophones,
in picturesque old ruins, by forest streams,
a hundred chapels, same songs. Anyway,
you’ve heard them too and you know what I mean.
Yet uncreative darkness never tires
of drumming its black-suited words, and worse,
whispered misshapen shades of things to come
supplied to our taut souls cold as a curse.
A pestilence among us in the dark
is not new. Just ask the fourteenth century,
or the last. As for governments gone rogue
they crawl through history books as thick as fleas.
Well, let the enemy show us doggedness.
And while the dark pounds its monotonous drum,
bring on the common goodness, common love,
the worn-out ordinary. Let them come!
Set out your candles on the windowsills,
repeat the courtesies you learned at two,
sing gorgeous carols sung on snowy streets
by merry gentlemen that Shakespeare knew.
With common loveliness the world is rich,
so rich that some would call its naming trite,
but by this copper coin joy is bought
and sets the candles of the stars alight.
So as for us, let us repeat our prayers
and stack our wood and cut our evergreens.
By common kindnesses the brooding dark
is kept at bay. Great things begin unseen.
A shepherd sings a folk song by his fire,
a flower buds blood-red along the thorn,
and in this topsy turvy starry night
out in a barn the kingdom shall be born.
Claudia Lehman lives in Păltiniş, Romania, with her favorite poet, Kyle, and their daughter Josephine. She loves teaching, old books, Earl Grey tea, wildflowers, and her comfort zone.
Photography by Kenneth Godoy