Friday, 27 December 2019

Three Poems for Christmas Day ~ the First Day of Christmas

St Martin's church, Cheriton, Kent
Christmas morning, 2019

Sometimes I Wonder

by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler

Sometimes I wonder
if Mary breastfed Jesus
if she cried out when he bit her
or if she sobbed when he would not latch.

And sometimes I wonder
if this is all too vulgar
to ask in a church
full of men
without milk stains on their shirts
or coconut oil on their breasts
preaching from the pulpit
off limits to the Mother of God.

but then I think of feeding Jesus,
birthing Jesus,
the expulsion of blood
and the smell of sweat,
the salt of a mother's tears
onto the soft head of the Salt of the Earth,
feeling lonely
and tired
and I think,
if the vulgarity of birth is not
not honestly preached
by men who carry power but not burden,
who carry privilege but not labour,
who carry authority but not submission
then it should not be preached at all.
Because the real scandal of the Birth of God
lies in the cracked nipples
of a 14 year old
and not in the sermons of ministers
who say women
are too delicate
to lead.

The fifth candle is lit on the Advent crown

December Began with Shopping

by L Kiew

for the exotic: mint and apple sauce,

imported rosemary, cranberries, candied

peel and blocks of English butter.

It began with baking, the Christmas cake

drenched daily with dark brandy

until it oozed from the lightest finger-flick

and emptying jar after jar

of Robertson’s mincemeat into pastry.

Cinnamon gold-dusted everything.

After the final Advent window,

we opened all our doors,

welcoming hungry occupants, their cars

filling up the driveway, aunts and uncles,

cousins in greater and lesser iterations,

the generations dressed in batik, bearing gifts.

The kitchen was ever at the heart of it.

My parents cooked together.

Crackling, perfection an inch thick

on the side of pig that Dad roasted

while Mum beatified the oven-pan,

red wine gravy, bliss of roux.

Cheerful, family sat where we could,

plates heavy in heady heat, heaped

meat, golden potatoes, peas, carrots too.

Our hands were full. Still there was more,

glasses, cups, Anchor beer and Sunkist,

hot kopi, Cointreau, joyful chatter,

mince pies with cream, walnuts

to crack and chocolates to unwrap.

Dad asked again, again and

again if we’d enough to eat

until decidedly replete, my extended family

levered to their feet, departed noisily.

Day cooled to a close. Dusk drifted quiet

through rooms to settle on stacks

of washing up glinting in the sink.

It was always good, that stillness,

sky kissed with flecks of light,

night unbuttoning its mysteries.

My favourite Christmas house, 2019.

Amazing Peace: a Christmas Poem

by Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes

And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche.
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension,
Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in
the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancour,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps
quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they
walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening
all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled
by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

The first primrose, Christmas morning, 2019


Kaitlin Hardy Shetler ~

L Kiew ~

Dr. Maya Angelou ~

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