I know Christmas has passed and a new year has dawned, but this Christmas Lament from a good friend left me speechless in wonder, grief, and hope, especially in light of all that happened in Connecticut a few weeks ago.
So here it is – a Christmas Lament.
To the baby Jesus: You, who gave yourself in soft flesh, helpless and grateful to live in that singularly limited and tender and fragile and infinite prism we call a human life, to suffer our pains and rejoice in our rejoicings, to eat and drink and sleep and grow weary, to give of yourself freely to the very end, surrendering your living nerves and brittle limbs to the caustic lash, the breaking hammer, the slow choke, to finally expire blessing your torturers and then to rise again, banishing death and offering hope - To you, Blessed One, I bring tribute, my hands full of my shattered wealth, nothing left but tears and words and questions my tongue can't pronounce, and a list of twenty-eight names, twenty of them the bubbling, musical names of children, babies like yourself, tender and soft and broken and infinite, leaking through my fingers like sand, lost. I bring you the absence of laughter on the playground, and the pencil stubs and fractured crayons abandoned on the floor. I bring you the phantom hugs and slippery kisses missing now from the days. I bring you the little bodies, who touched and tasted and squabbled and reached and stumbled and now lie still. I bring you hopes and dreams, severed from their timeline, tied and floating freely like a bouquet of bright helium balloons. I bring you the parents, spirits riven, itching to peel their skin off, to be someone else, something else, anything else. I bring you the inarticulate keening of a people heartbroken and confused, which cannot rise even from the dust so weighted is it with grief choking on its own sorrow. There are no words to explain this. There is no prayer to pray. I have nothing of value to give and so I bring this worthless poem barbed with anger, mangled, parched, unyielding and unlovely, whispered for all who suffer and die and are silenced too soon. I come, a ragged and impoverished mourner, and lay these shards at your feet.