Confessional Work: Late Advent
Long lines at this season, everywhere.
I’m used to them: airport security,
checkout, post office queue, holiday movie.
In darkness that falls early, they fold into corners,
hugging the buildings for something like support.
Always the choreography of burden,
balanced against the hip, hugged to the chest,
kicked ahead of me in the snaking line:
the carry-on that I already know
will not fit in the overhead compartment,
the package that can never arrive by Christmas
to buy me an impossible absolution,
the near-despair clutched at for thirty years.
the pointless sin, the life I never fix—
when my arms tire, I will drag it across the floor
through a trail of puddle left by slushy boots
to a counter where a face, with practiced patience,
will ask me, Anything else? and motion me on.
And all this longing for no reason I know,
except that even now, the lumped gray sky—
as if it heard earth sing Rorate coeli—
plops down fat flakes, thick with springlike wetness,
and parking lots filled with the scraps of autumn
look cleaner, in the very way we beg for
in the prayer of another season: white as snow.
by Maryann Corbett, first published in Rock and Sling. Appears in the book Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter.
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Editor’s Note: The winter season isn’t always calm and peaceful. Sometimes it’s filled with despair and regrets. This poem illustrates that with impeccable starkness, giving only a glimmer of hope at the very end.