Christmas Poem

I cannot write a Christmas

poem for you,

not with all those slick verses

oozing through the mail,

the schmaltzy music whining

on the radio.

But what I can do

is tell you of a December

afternoon in 1957

when I sat in Miss Cohee’s

fourth grade class

listening to the radiators clank

and staring at my scarred desktop

and how Eddie Morgan,

hunched in the seat beside me,

looked up suddenly and whispered,

“It’s snowing!”

I looked up too,

along with the rest of the class,

out the tall warped windows,

across the empty playground,

to Idlewild Avenue,

and saw that it was true:

the first gray-white dust just drifting

the blue cedars.

If you are an old believer,

even on this bluest of December days,

I would give you that pale afternoon,

the chalkdust scuffle of shoes

on the worn floor,

those children’s faces

eager as light.

— Stephen E. Smith

(From A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths.)

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