Poetry, #22 Silent Night…: From “The (chap) Book of the Dead”

They said I must be out of my mind

wanting to celebrate Christmas this year,

that survival was all we had

to be thankful for; that the stories

were lies, and worse, hope was harm

waiting to happen. I said, “Shut up

both of you and open your presents.”

See, Jenny used to talk all the time

about this unbreakable composite bat

she saw once. And it’s no surprise

that Stevie’s jokes about shoveling

the driveway with a flamethrower

each winter wasn’t a kid’s dream

of the perfect gift under the tree.

Finding these things was hard enough,

hiding them until the 25th? Almost

impossible. But it gave me something

to focus on other than death. My gift

was seeing their faces look a little

like before all this happened: normal.

I won’t tell them how I risked myself

raiding that strip mall out by the town,

just to find canned milk for eggnog.

The stocking are just socks, plain wool,

but the handguns inside are the gifts

that keep on giving. This year we have

a small piece of a holiday we once took

for granted. We enjoy our time together.

…I’ll tell them about the bite tomorrow.