For the Feast of the Epiphany

Mourning doves mired in snowy boughs
as stillness resounds. Knots of spare song,
tawny against an embered sky.
A whirring within their buffed chests
steadies them against the cold.
They lean toward each other,
heads cloaked by stilled wings.

But one must take flight, rile
sunken branches, release
a dirge for shunned paths.
Who else could be so sorrowful?
Yesterday, my husband hauled
the Christmas tree deep into the woods.
As stripped limbs eclipsed his form,
my heart dragged on the ground
with the point of the fallen tree.

Advertisement

Now it is truly fallen and ousted from the house,
an act we postpone until the boughs yellow
and the gift-bearing travelers kneel.
This year was a hard search,
long into darkness, during the first snow.
At last, a Douglas fir
in the west window shed its lustrous scent.
This year my gift ornament
was a pewter dove, wings hurled
open, as if troubling a descent
to peace. It glinted off red-ribboned trumpets,
caroling cherubs, wayward birds.
Will it surprise us next year,
or will we carry it within?
Outside, the doves are lifting off.
Snow shimmies, lost to itself for good.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A boy presents a hat to Pope Francis upon his arrival at the international airport in Trujillo, Peru, Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of ‘El Niño costero.’”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating Mass at the Maquehue Airport near Temuco, Chile, Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“Pope Francis’ statements...were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement released Jan. 20.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 20, 2018
 Pope Francis and Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stand outside the presidential palace in Lima, Peru, Jan.19.(CNS photo//Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
“The degradation of the environment...cannot be separated from the moral degradation of our communities.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
The U.S. bishops had an unusually busy year issuing positive and negative statements about the new president, but some hoped for more decisive action against his policies.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 19, 2018