Mother, Night

We talk of Christmas
gifts to make for ones we love
whose number may include each other.
Ties and books and the difficulty of music,
and what to do for the sister
with particular tastes
and an absence of time.

I say my year will be complete
if all I receive is a box of sleep.
Just think: to unwrap
one week, a mere seven nights,
each a polished pomegranate
swollen with its eight hours
and perhaps a nap or two, jewels
tucked in around the edges.

The story of this gift is far from new.
Three men arrive at the crèche
bearing gold and perfume.
What of their fourth?
In the forgotten chapter, lost
back in the desert,
he dared to crack the wooden arc
open, to sample the offering.
He could not resist the scent
(who could?)
and dipped his finger in.

Just a taste
and he was adrift
in the oblivion
he was supposed to have shared
not with the babe
but with poor Mary
who still, two millennia hence,
awaits the arrival
of a decent night’s rest.

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