Douglas Woodsum

Chocolate Covered Apricots

Some nights have their rivers of milky light.
In the rainy city the lights become
Beams, fuzzy and bleeding, on the wet streets,
Lights meandering through intersections
Where freshly cut Christmas trees lean against
Wires and giant sawhorses, young trees cut
Off but safe, for now, in large numbers, and happy,
Perhaps, to be away from the farm at last.
The living trees stay warm all night as the rain
Changes to snow. Wrapped like pipes we don’t want
To freeze, the trees show off their bulbs, boasting
With a brightness that outshines spring’s tulips.
The street people have such potential now.
Everyone’s cooking and gathering change
For them. Everyone’s hoping to foster
The next Mary and Joseph. Like breeding
Spaniels, it only takes a few days of close
Attention. Nature will do the rest. God,
We thank you for this annual excuse
To clean the cupboards of all the food stuffed
In our stockings last year: the guava chutney,
The cans of gourmet squid, the champagne jelly.
How good it feels to deliver these goods
To the poor! And, what the hell, why not throw
In that can of lima beans, too. Happy
Christmas! Happy, happy Christmas! At Yale
They’ve taken forty pictures of the bulldog
With his santa hat on and a plastic
Wreath around his head: “Peace on earth, good will
Toward men, we beat Harvard this year.”
Mercedes Benz . . . what a beautiful phrase
Even before the cars were made.
Our savior rises like Venus
Over the fading colors of dusk after a day
Filled with preparation: hiring a bartender,
Picking up the oysters, caviar and shrimp.
Lights in all the trees. Lights and spruce boughs
Wrapping the lampposts. The power windows
Hum and disappear; smell the Christmas trees?
The forest that was here before the first
Ship came? Oh, to be an Indian safe
In the snow. A Mexican woman takes
The coats in an apartment above
Madison Ave. Another offers hot
Food from a tray. It’s Christmas. The stillest
Moment of the night comes when one server
Drops her tray full of food, but quickly the hum
Begins again: the din of trips to Africa
And the important van Goghs and the rage
This year, chocolate covered apricots.
My glass was never empty, all night long.

Douglas Woodsum
Chocolate Covered Apricots first appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol 34, #2.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Douglas Woodsum
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse