About the Author
The Christmas Journey
Passed My Hearing Test
Quis Est?
From a Bestiary
Two Sonnets for Alex
Hamlet Contemplates the
   Skull of Gabriel Edmund,
   Recently Born

Seeing My Son
Sailing to Kansas
Winter Trees

World Voices Home

The Literary Explorer
Writers on the Job
Books Forgotten
Thomas E. Kennedy
Walter Cummins
Web Del Sol

The Christmas Journey

Night, dark night,
like outer space, except
I watch for deer at the fringes of
my lights. I wind along
the country roads, taking
the curves and hills and one-lane bridges
I know so well, tense with hope
of beating the winter storm
they said was coming. Here,
no radio, no mission control,
just me strapped into my toasty
module, full of myself
but feeling something rush out
in the cold, wailing,
wringing its hands. Silence again,
the night, my knowing
the way, knowing
the plane is up there somewhere, yes,
the ancient leap of faith:
I see them already, appearing at
the far end of a corridor
as bright as Sunday
at Newark Airport in a swarm
of Californians in their foreign
golf-pro clothes — Dad
a head above anyone,
ambling on arthritic legs,
Mom in a pants suit that looks
freshly pressed, her face
the first to smile — distance,
deserts, mountains,
cloud riffles, the lights of Vegas
like underwater, bustle
of flight attendants wheeling
their hospital carts. Earthbound,
passing guard-rails,
signs, utility poles that seem
to hold the woods back, here and there
a burst of Christmas lights, I feel
the filaments reach out
from nerve cells, dog-eared highways,
tacky motels, satellite dishes
yearning upward, the President's
red telephone, the hand
on the wheel, a half-remembered
hymn, the astronauts
weightless and dreaming, transformations,
all the dead
that are solid ground. A short
six miles up, zooming
through emptiness, metal and vinyl
purring, most of the lights
turned off, the movie over,
the lotus opens, love
moves people as it's always done.
The ancient dark
is cracking, there now, taillights
like a trail of little
blood drops, Pathmark,
Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King,
the long parabola,
the red, white, and blue
of the Interstate, the way
of the fixed stars. But love
jars me, moves me,
as darkness cups the earth like a face
in her cold hands.
(Something about
meeting again on the other shore.)
On my windshield
a few soft snowflakes start.

Published in Poetry Northwest, Spring 1988