Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Near Morning

Cow’s breath warms his swaddling

a brood mare snuffles her foal

crumbs of prayer

caught in the mouse’s paws

the shadows of the guests

linger along the wall

though the guests have gone

A leather drawstring pouch

embroidered with dialect

bulges with drachmas

the scent of sandalwood

a costly porcelain jar

rolled up in the rug on the back

of the little mule Ham

sleepily nibbling her fetlock

hock-deep in snow

The man has lain down 

with the woman at last

It is nearly dawn

For a moment

there is a stillness

so absolute

even the stars don’t blink
The infant beginning

to inhabit his body

is startled by the cold

kiss of air on his cheek

by an ember falling into ashes

as sound as soft as the step

of a friend in a garden

a serry of torches

marching across the wall


  1. I like this, Melissa, capturing the ordinariness of the animals, the weariness after the 'captains & kings' depart, & the child's-eye view ...

  2. Thanks, Helen, and I am very grateful for all your savvy and kind comments throughout in this year of 2011. It's meant a lot.

  3. Melissa - always in the end, your poetry for me is sound - here there is such a softness and stillness - snuffles and sounds of animals - and the ember falling - could anything be softer? but it forewarns doesn't it? the 'friend' in the garden - that soft betrayal) and the torches bringing worshippers now and the sound of marching warning of soldiers later ... that shift from the softness and intimacy and love surrounding this birth (every birth) and the threat and coldness and hate of the outside world and the future is powerful (every future) is very powerful -- a wonderful end to 2010 poetry for me, thank you

  4. Dearest Mary, thank you--for understanding everything about this poem. You've gotten it all and I love you for it. Happiest of New Years, dear friend. xo

  5. The most glorious Crèche scene I've ever envisioned. And the last paragraph--puts it all in perspective. Amazing.

    'Tis truly a gift, Melissa. :)

  6. Ham is the perfect name for a mule.