BY D. R. JAMES
Copyright is held by the author.
Never up first, he was always
downstairs first, his four little boys
aligned like ascending angels
up the polished staircase, already
dressed, eager to see the tree,
their piles of presents, when he gave
the word. But this —his first since
moving out, holed up in a greyed
box on a slab with a stoop just
blocks away: Christmas Eve with
him, a canned ham, and trifles
stuffed into four new matching
stockings; Christmas day with her.
At forty-four, he’d never spent
this morning alone with its luxury
of infomercials, happy-holiday sales
inserts, fried eggs and left-over ham.
A nice woman stopped to exchange
commiseration, gifts meant to flatter,
their festive fronts. Later, the phone
said what everyone had gotten —
what he already knew. That night,
back at the rental after kissing four
happy foreheads through their front
porch door, he watched winter turn
his wine black, fell asleep weeping,
Miles Davis playing Blue in Green.