A Christmas Song

                        Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat
                        Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
                        If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.
                        If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

Tonight the wide, wet flakes of snow
Drift down like Christmas suicides,
Layering the eaves and boughs until
The landscape seems transformed, as from
A night of talk or love. I’ve come
From cankered ports and railroad hubs
To winter in a northern state:
Three months of wind and little light.
Wood split, flue cleaned, and ashes hauled,
I am now proof against the cold
And make a place before the stove.
Mired fast in middle age, possessed
Of staved-in barn and brambled lot,
I think of that fierce-minded woman
Whom I loved, painting in a small,
Unheated room, or of a friend,
Sharp-ribbed from poverty, who framed
And fitted out his house by hand
And writes each night by kerosene.
I think, that is, of others who
Withdrew from commerce and the world
To work for joy instead of gain.
O would that I could gather them
This Yuletide, and shower them with coins.

“A Christmas Song” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (www.ohioswallow.com).
Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)
More Poems by Norman Williams