Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas 1999

In a hallway half filled with darkness I first heard
the story of the child born in a cave. The man
at the table set with bread and water sang songs
so close to the tongue and breath I could not easily deny
what they told. He knew my mind. The songs were wings
in the crisp desert air, amid the faralitos licking wind.

Tonight, the moon on the ocean horizon is yellow
like a summer flower, but the wind's a razor.
My older son and I sit on the deck of the ship and talk
about politics and the state of the country.
I tell him there's the search for truth and its desire.
No star in the sky. Simply fear
that if you don't act, a fire goes out and you die.

Below deck, the younger children want to turn out the light
and see the path to the moon, its road across the sea.
Their faces are pink with cold, and put to the test,
they won't back down from a dare. Simone’s laugh
shames away the shadow of boredom, and chocolate bars and soft
pretzels sanctify any moment bare of good cheer.

Docked at Port Jeff, we drive east past marshlands
and woods with gray trees disappearing quickly from sprawl.
Indian names mark paths to homes with lights and presents.
Homes where there is wealth that awes and fear that a child
might cry. I have the gift of these children
in a car going east beneath a moon whose face is enough.

The child in the cave sleeps in the moon.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.


  1. nice...love the storytelling...and the wrap to the child...i was thinking otherwise but love that he lives in the moon...and also the bit of social commentary in there as well...our children are a gift...

  2. what i like a lot here is the weaving together of a real story pinned to a greater, unseen story.. framed by the child born in the cave and then sleeping in the moon.. very nicely done charles

  3. I like the structure of this poem, the way you build it within the parentheses of the child born in the cave and ending with sleeping in the moon. Beautiful phrase...songs were wings in the crisp desert air...and like much your thought of children as a gift. Lovely work, Chazzy!

  4. One of your best I've read Charles--that second stanza in particular just sings, but the whole poem asks (and answers just enough) all the right questions of this troubled but also bountiful human season. A very fine poem, in any season.

  5. A wonderful story in a poem. I really like "sang songs so close to the tongue and breath" and the chilren who wanted to "see the path to the moon".

  6. Some lovely images here. I don't think you actually need the last line... the penultimate feels like the end, for me. Nice work.

  7. This is a wonderful narrative. I admire the simplicity, the transparency. It does kindle a fire in the reader. Excellent poem.

  8. lovely, and full of beautiful images.