From childhood I’ve led a nomadic life, then thankfully settled down for a while after my marriage; but due to varied pressures over the last dozen years or so, we found ourselves moving not once, not twice, but four times!
Let slip the dogs of war, cry ‘Havoc!’1
My life is in boxes. Taped wounds reopen.
Something’s lost, new scars of the march
Mark rosewood and disquiet heart,
Chipping tall glasses into which descanted
Expectations contain shards. I swallow
To survive. Patience. There is no end to it.
Nothing is ever put away in just the right place
As it was before, or ever after. A life’s exhumations,
Dislocated. Some funerary remains stay buried mysteries,
Supernumerary or symptoms of malaise. Diagnosis:
Lassitude. The patient’s surgical cut unanesthetized
Comes at Christmas, when more than one treasured
Ornament is missed, or smashed, glitter powder, a crack
On Nutcracker chin. His stout smile now on my face.
Shrugging away another casualty. The clock chimes.
There are cookies in the oven in the new-not-new
Kitchen where cups and saucers rotate from shelf
To shelf to find a home. The doorbell rings.
I prepare my bravado. Hopeful eyes meet mine,
A Christmas tree on slim shoulders, angelic annunciation
To their father’s bemused smile. Now a certain
Cavalcade of the heart, benediction of wise men’s gold
Escaping boxes, escaping from what was
To what is. Another Egypt. Another promised land.
Father Abraham. Mother Sarah. Tents folded
Unfolded. Tinsel time like tinsel tears shimmer past.
Frankincense and myrrh. My life by blood covenant, Thine.
1“The military order ‘Havoc!’ was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare’s parlance ‘the dogs of war’) to pillage and chaos. The ‘let slip’ is an allusion to the slip collars that were used to restrain dogs and were easily ‘let slip’ to allow the dogs to run and hunt.”
Image credit: Michael Whelan, "Lights," acrylic on watercolor board, 1991
I'm guest-hosting today at dVerse "Poetics: Epiphany in the Time of Holiday," where we will write on what an epiphany during this holiday season would look like for us (or someone we know or imagine). An epiphany, writes critic X. J. Kennedy, is 'some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character’s life, or view of life, is greatly altered.' Epiphany is from the Greek, epiphainein, “to show forth.” (James Joyce, for example, describes epiphanies in everyday life, using stream-of-consciousness in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” mixing memories, associations, moral/ideological/religious issues.)
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