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Joe Hoover, S.J.November 19, 2020

The lamb was missing from the crèche.
Thin porcelain, hollow, creamy, with folds
to make it look like a lamb, and gone.

Where did he go? Was it our fault? Careless with the box
and he tumbled into some squalid recess of the basement,
or the hoary undergrowth of couch cushions?
Was he a black sheep we paid too little mind?
Little lamb, little lamb, who cast out thee?

Christ bursts into the manger, quickened into cows,
but doesn’t blanket the stable with a fog of righteousness,
cast out our bedrock flaws so we’ll never
casually throw little sheep away,
nor endow us with perfect courage
to venture into the waste and get them back.

(This is getting unpleasant, no? Is this really
a Christmas story? Where’s the falling snow?)

So hilarious and chill, my college dormmate Gene.
Vital, jumpy, a faux edgy thrasher, black boots
in August type of thing, slam dancing to Pearl Jam.
Twenty years later, your opinions show up on a screen
and suddenly I’m rehearsing a case why arming
kindergarten teachers with Glocks, O Gene,
may not be the finest idea humanity has ever conceived.

Where did we lose you, dear Gene? Did you fall away
down near the boiler, lost in the endless rages of the day
that spin the mind into tufts of cotton? Or was it something
more basic, the stripe that Adam lashed on us all?

Nevertheless.

The slim wager’s that because Christ appeared,
if any lamb ’round the manger gets lost in the dark,
at least one of the deficient unholy astrologers
or goats or drumming punks, or, god knows, shepherds
will leave for the moment their ninety-nine sins,
do the one needful thing, trek out and try to bring him back.
Back to the crib, the cave where he belongs, needs the shelter,
no, really does, because boys it is vicious out there, unforgiving,
the white ice falling and fast.

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