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

Indigenous people walk past Pope Francis after presenting offertory gifts during the pope's celebration of Mass at the Maquehue Airport near Temuco, Chile, Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis appealed to the Mapuche, who have suffered “great injustices,” to totally reject violence “which can make a just cause turn into a lie.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 17, 2018
Dolores O'Riordan, former lead singer of The Cranberries, performs on stage during a concert in 2007 in Tirana, Albania (CNS photo/Arben Celi, Reuters).
She was Dickensian, if Dickens had written a Gaelic warrior-waif, a hero with a voice that could thrill and comfort.
Cameron Dezen HammonJanuary 17, 2018
Pope Francis dove head-first into Chile's sex abuse scandal on his first full day in Santiago.
Pope Francis meets with priests, religious and seminarians at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile, Jan. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Francis focused for the second time today during his visit to Chile on the abuse scandal that has rocked the Chilean church. “I know the pain resulting from cases of abuse of minors, and I am attentive to what you are doing to respond to this great and painful evil,” he said.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 16, 2018