“The Carolers” by Elizabeth Beck

Christmas brings pudding, sweet and shining suet
Sugared plums swimming in cream
Paper crowns with bawdy jokes and a fullness of familial comfort
While Eve ushers the gentle whisper of candles lighting
And breathless waiting of children
Beneath a thick blanket of low hymns
We know the traditional dance
Of moon to morning sun
Few speak of the darkness before
When the Spirit moved over the waters
in inky blackness
The darkness before creation
The celebration of the night before Christmas Eve
Who would honor an absence
An emptiness, a void –
But for the carolers
It is the hour of indwelling and the
moment of making
That composes their song
As they shuffle door to closed door
Atonal and strange music
a magnetic pole hum
Shunning the candied doorways
Fleeing festive bulbs and bright strings
Pausing only to gaze through windows
Framing trees of the old woods
Relics from a time when there were many
As many carolers as mortals living
and absence appreciated
Respected in the empty bellies
the hole in the thin wall
the gaunt and fixed gaze
The carolers bring tidings of the hollowness
before the bounty
the shadow of the blessed day
the fallow egg and bitter gall
and only those who’ve heard
their plaintive notes
Know there’s a nothing to celebrate at all
Elizabeth Beck is a South Sound writer who never dreamed of running away to the circus but often imagined the pleasures of being trapped in a library overnight. Stay up all night reading at americanogig.wixsite.com/elizabethbeck.