by Jeffrey Essmann
I don’t recall the tree or what we ate With sentiment Dickensian and sweet. The tree was (in a Midwest way) ornate; The food: potatoes, certainly, some meat. My past, it seems, gives off more light than heat And memory is given to caprice: As images within its folds accrete, My focus blurs, and deep connections cease. Yet nonetheless, there on the mantelpiece With tortured cotton balls depicting snow: A dime-store crèche, the Babe with cheeks cerise; An orange lightbulb casting Heaven’s glow. The memory of this is still quite clear: I can’t forget when Mystery drew near.
Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.