Just moved to Ephrata, PA, the Biblical name of Bethlehem. If I don’t write a poem for next xmas, I should be shot.
February 19, 1947
(date 29 out of 365 in the Vietnam War draft lottery)
Let the day perish wherein I was born,
And the night which said, There is a man-child conceived.
It may have been the day Amelia Earhart was found,
ten years after she climbed into cloud,
or the day a man peered into a lens,
saw a miniscule cure for cancer.
But I prayed them away, labor
pains, sleep-deprived docs,
squeak-shod nurses, hall-
skipped over like a
on a calendar.
dead or dying.
shocked at her
womb flat as a flitter,
my father peering at
his pajama-pocket dream
stogies un-puffed, as if in sleep
they had doused themselves, while
I paced in some anteroom, tiny, tear-
off deli tab in my fingers, shouting above the
crooning of heavenly choirs, trying to trade my
number with my angelic neighbors, for theirs, higher
than mine, then higher, then too high to hear the bloody
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. —Ecclesiastes 11:1
God is not big; He is right.
—William Stafford, “On a Church Lawn”
They bloom here
in England in February, the month
of my birth, “in profusion.”
And if “they carpet the greenwood,”
and they do, then it’s a pile carpet,
because they’re quite tall,
six inches, what sex manuals call
“an average erection.”
Little white heads—“harbingers
of spring”—poking themselves
shyly up through snow, as if to say,
okay, here we are again,
so do your worst. We expect
no more, no less.
But bread doesn’t last:
it soaks, and bloats,
and floats away,
and we’ll be back next year.
We hope to see you here,
eating cucumber sandwiches,
you need bread to make,
if not the loaf you find,
then the loaf you’d better bake.
©2016 William Greenway
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