The Christmas I was three
My mother held a woolly bundle
in her arms.
“It’s what you wanted”, she said smiling.
“A kitten!” I yelled, all delight.
But it was just my brother Pierce.
I was a pageant angel in the front row
Worried about my wobbling wings
My friend’s sister was Gabriel
her clear soprano rising
to the stone roof of the church,
But the baby in the manger was a flashlight
which struck me as a cheat.
At boarding school before vacation
seniors rose at six to serenade each dorm with
“Saw you never in the twilight”
And I got goosebumps
maybe from the cold. Who knows?
Walking on the crunchy frozen grass
I thought about the birth of Christ and
wasn’t sure what I believed.
And then they placed my first child
in my arms
Rounded nails on fingers and on toes
Tiny as translucent shells
washed up on the beach.
His berry mouth and startled eyes
squeezing my heart.
Those seven pounds gave a hint
of what it’s like to hold a miracle.
I thought of teenage Mary cradling
her child and wondered how far
she could see ahead.
To life, to death or to eternity…