Confession for 2020

In a year of horrors of which no one needs particulars

that might nudge the loss, grief, fear, and pain up

from the shallow graves of memory like knobby

leg bones after too much rain,

we are plunged into the heretical sea of duality,

in which the ceaseless love of the Holy One is paired

not with its opposite but its absence; grace to graceless,

blessing to indifference.

All is salt; tears shed and wounds abraded, tongues

blistered on the draft of goodbyes unsaid, while the

conjoined twins, Doldrum and Maelstrom, reel above

splintered keels of capsized dreams.

Who is the Jonah with his duffle of sin, that brought this

godless wrath upon us?  Whom shall we pitch to the deep

in our stead, to wedge between the gnashing jaws

lest they snap shut upon us?

Look to the eyes of all for the flickers of guilt and virtue,

especially our own, then raise the howl of contrition

for the clay-footed idols we’ve made, every

one of them shod in our shoes.

©Dana Hughes 12.28.20

Christmas Decorations

The tree enthroned in the living room

winks a coded message in mini lites,

to the magi marching east to west along

the mantel toward the ceramic infant

wide awake between kneeling

mother and father, both clean and pert

despite the travel and childbirth ordeal.

But those unwise wise men are heedless;

a different light draws them to the crib.

Is it star the divine parent of this

incarnation has fixed above the babe

to reveal, like an X on a treasure map,

the very spot where he may be found?

Or is it the fire in the breasts of a trio

of fools who must be first to discover

and name the newest wonder? 

Either way, they neither slow nor turn

and by their fervor to witness, lead the

furies of the mortal king to other boys

asleep on the hay.

Donkey and cow, sheep and shepherds

peer through painted eyes at the holy child

and behind them all, in the darkest of

Christmas shadows, stand figures

of empty-armed women, with blood

of the slain on their ashen cheeks.

©Dana Hughes 12.5.20