By Rita A. Simmonds - Brooklyn, New York, USA - 4 January 2013
I'd wondered how it would end,
going all that way at 12 a.m.,
driving on and on.
The empty highway
had never been so awakened
from a dream.
What is the world doing now?
Is there another soul around
to share the acuteness
of my need?
At the center of the city,
the avenue bore signs:
Angels dangling from the wire,
wings aflutter without flying.
It's the sentence of the season
for those who seek for things unseen.
You can't buy them in a drug store
like the tinsel red and green,
silver-gray, and yellow-gold,
wrapping railings, swirling poles,
like the chorus girls of ailing step
who every year repeat the show.
With speed I passed beyond the trim,
through traffic lights of red or green.
I ended in a zone unknown,
dodging laughs and screams,
behind a door that locked behind,
I waited for my key.
Parading round the social square
around the nurses' box,
were people of chaotic hair
who swept the floor with socks.
The people of the key approached.
Their coats were dazzling white.
They had no wings, they didn't sing,
but they were most polite.
"Please tell us now
what brought you here?"
What should I say?
What could they hear?
It started with the star, I thought,
the one we've always known about,
the early light we've come to doubt.
I'd seen the slightest evidence
on busy streets or storeroom shelves:
The lights and glitter and tinkling tunes
from wound up tinkering elves.
Or the Santa Clause who rings for alms
deserted by his team.
Such clues as these had led my search,
but now, what did they mean?
But there was no room in the inn
for a question such as this.
Their faces turned my fervor cold,
so I gave them lines that fit:
"I get this way at holidays.
I'm not a danger to myself.
I wish no harm to anyone.
I'm hoping to get well.
I don't expect to be here long.
You'll need my bed.
I'll need your pills.
Just send the bill and I'll be gone."
(I'm sure they knew by heart the song!)
But they marked it down and turned to leave.
"One more question, if you please --
You have the key to free the door,
but do you know where God is born?"
They marked it down and walked away.
I'd find the Babe a different way.
That same night I was stirred from sleep,
by a fellow-traveler, just brought in.
She told me it was snowing out.
I asked her, was it beautiful?
She said she didn't know.
Her face was pale and worn with tears.
She said she'd journeyed twenty years.
"What brought you here?"
She wouldn't say.
Maybe she didn't know.
Her eyes were beginning to show
to almost completely close.
"Wise woman! Do you know," I cried,
"the manger where the Baby lies?"
"I've never found Him,
but one thing's sure,
I've lost myself, for what it's worth."
My heart was broken by her words.
"Let's search this scene for signs of birth!"
In haste we met a restless soul
his face reflecting white and red
gazing at the neon sign
above the door we'd all come in.
"I see you always move," I said.
"I wander halls that know no end."
He pointed to the exit light,
"But still the star of Bethlehem."
Copyright © 2013 Rita A. Simmonds. All Rights Reserved.