Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Letter (Christmas card in a poem)

Well, I'll tell you.
I was going to write a perfectly-crafted villanelle,
full of sly imagery and clever cultural references,
telling the story of the year that's fast dying.
Sleekly rhymed, smooth as a silky summer scarf.
A thing of slightly wry beauty, it was going to be:
A little seasonal gift, scattered into the wind.

But here's what happened:
The rhymes got stuck, and wouldn't behave.
(Once you've used up "earth", there aren't a lot of good options for rhyming "birth").
Then, too, summing up the year proved unexpectedly problematic, and
as if that wasn't enough,
the youngest child was throwing the grandmother of all tantrums behind my head,
which does tend to have a dampening effect on the creative process.

So there won't be a formal, patterned villanelle.
I have made no neat and poetic summary of the wildness in tooth and claw
that was the year passing.
It gave me transitions and frenzy, sadness and tragedic impulses;
small victories and lightning flashes of exceeding joy.
It felt like a watershed - but then, they often do,
these years since I turned thirty, had daughters, and life got serious,
in all its friability and fragility, its harsh light and shadows,

I suppose, then, only this:
I wish you the compassion of endings as well as beginnings, in this season.
The blessing that comes with counting over the beads of what has been,
naming them, one by one,
and letting them slip behind, the jewel-bright and obsidian alike,
to fall into the clear water.
I wish you peace at your table, whether you mark the day or whether you don't.
I wish that peace for you all, on that day just past the high point of summer,
here at the southerly tip of the spinning world.

- Kathy, 22/12/15

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