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Mandeville Press ; Christmas Dragoncards (1982)
I recognize that light,
that strange, illuminating, leaden glow
the sky takes on.
It makes my heart swell
with a deep, soul-bursting happiness
- it’s going to snow.
The first shy flakes drift hesitantly down,
caress the ground and melt apologetically,
uncertain of their welcome;
but confidence increases,
Fat flakes fall thickly,
giving those in front no time to dissipate
before being smothered by their fellows.
And I’m a child again,
nose pressed to window
as the magic stuff smoothes edges,
turns my darkness into light
with its redeeming touch.
I think of past awakenings to a special glow
that sneaked around the curtain edge
to tell how in the night
the secret snow had come.
I recognize that light -
and whenever it comes
it feels like Christmas.
We spend New Year’s Eve in your dirty flat,
washing down greasy pizza with cans of Foster’s
in silence. Impatient children light firecrackers
outside, and I try to make love to you out of habit.
You want to play computer games instead.
I venture to the bathroom to throw up.
You’re still at the desk at eleven fifty-eight,
fighting Nazis in northern France, rescuing
comrades from the trenches and hurling
hand grenades at advancing Germans. I hug you,
count down the seconds into your ear,
kiss you softly. Happy New Year, darling.
I collapse to the floor through fireworks
blood streams out of my nose; my eye
swells shut in an instant. Happy New Year,
you whisper with a smile, and kick
my barely healed ribs with heavy boots.
Then you return to the front line.