photo: ralph murre
by Cathryn Cofell
The village turned the landfill last
week, but we barely notice the stench.
The air feels bicycle and basketball,
the last chunks of leaves
still clinging like ex-lovers.
Bare feet against the porch window,
we sip Greek wine, listen
with wicked grins to our sweaters
pound against the locked
cedar chest in the hall.
In the chapel, a girls’ choir so clear
the ceiling tiles weep. One possum girl
on the end, all pigtails and glasses,
faints a little. She is so out
of place she could be ours
if we had one. Midnight,
the cats fight over the manger
and Mary is lost. We pick up pieces,
check for cuts in dark places.
Donation boxes cringe half empty;
can you hear their bellies rumble?
The mall overflows and the streets
overflow and the hospitals overflow,
but tomorrow the phone could ring,
a sister or cousin with news.
Gifts wrapped in silver and cinnamon,
cookies bundled in cellophane,
possibility like the touch of a small hand,
certain to take hold before snow.
~ first published in the
Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar