Other People’s Mail

You would think I’d know better
than to draw conclusions
but it’s that time of year—
overworked carriers
and bitter cold to boot, dark
before the new guy comes
and what with partygoers’ cars
blocking both sides of the street
my fading numbers covered
by the wind-skewed Christmas swag
(only one digit’s difference
in our address begs the fail)—
again, today, I got your mail

Had you been home
I’d have brought it to your door
icy sidewalk notwithstanding
nor new-kitchen contractor’s van
in your drive—the high-end
catalog, Christmas cards from far
and wide, your trust-fund statement
(or bank-official like that)—
I begin to believe it’s more
than dog versus cat, the good fence
or satisfying strong-magnet snick
of your new-last-summer mailbox
that separates us

This Advent Season

Frost-night church bells
dim, no night of angels but
blaring electric light—hark!
the child who came, the Son
the man with never a place
to lay his head but
shallow alleys, shopping malls
gray-sky corners, caves

We all converged on the great city
we who worshiped power
and its palaces, comfort
for cold and sore feet
while these my brothers
hurried and howled
these my sisters
huddled head-down

All this distance
from heaven to earth
woman to man to man
empty and full asking why
and when would he come



Twelve hundred miles, the penance
of a confessed Grinch—
I say we will go home for Christmas
and by home I mean the place
I haven’t lived for twenty years
the family I happily abandoned
the scenes I packed up and moved
out of my heart. We will daze ourselves
driving, hug and kiss, dry-eyed
laugh a little, bring our own wine
and drink it in secret, trying
to remember how to feel. We will fall
into the old southern cadence for a time
but the glowing vision of color, carols
Momaw’s living room, gift-wrap strewn
is grayed-out, gone. I grow old
complaining of traffic and change
querulous for my own bed.