Labor of Love
The heavens fill with smoke as campfires blaze
and actors paint themselves into their pictures
while speakers echo back the choral strains
of tracks laid down in living rooms then mixed
for these tableaux. Cars crawl down Quarry Road
past shepherd families gathered in the gloom,
past travelers barely sheltered from the cold
beside the inn, told, “Sorry, there’s no room.”
Eight miles away a shepherd’s son, a nurse,
turns left to leave St. Joseph’s Hospital,
his finished double shift among the worst
since COVID hit — breaks skipped, the ward past full,
his team a missing-membered skeleton,
outbursts, code after code. A patient dead.
He hears among the blended baritones
his own voice as he nears the church ahead.
The wise men know, and Mary, and the choir,
that all their work here won’t bring on the dawn —
that they cannot supply the balm required
to give untroubled sleep to anyone
whose days and dreams of harried desperation
permit no heavenly peace, no silent night.
Only for this their weeks of preparation:
a single touch of myrrh, one tiny light.
by Coleman Glenn
Editor’s Note: The mix of perfect and slant rhyme (and iambic pentameter) nudges the reader along in this poem, past the hopelessness of despair, until we arrive at the last two lines where a tiny smidge of hope concludes the poem exactly right.
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