Two Fathers packed us shivering
into the rectory’s station wagon
where our stuttered breaths fogged
windows spider-webbed with frost.
I rubbed circles with my sleeve
to see the cemetery angel glisten
above a mound so fresh it wore
no weeds. We left streetlamps
hovering like rotten nectarines
to creep through Harmony
Estates, where all the strands
arched rainbows over doors
and bushes trimmed to orbs.
I liked the plain lights best—
shimmering against eggshell
shutters or spiraling on reindeer
frozen in their ready rear
for flight. Comet and Cupid
rang inside my head, repeating
like plastic mangers where
every weary Joseph bowed
before a swaddled blue cocoon.
Timothy, our newest boy, kept
glancing backward at the miles
and mound the darkness held
where his handprints starred dirt.
His face turned alabaster
each time a coughing fit
bent him like a shepherd.
I wondered if the Holy Spirit hid
among oxen, or sheep, or flew
from bulb to bulb, blessing each
porch’s wreath ribbon and risen
house number tacked in brass
impossible to tell inside the glow.
Adam Tavel won the 2017 Richard Wilbur Book Award for Catafalque, his third book of poems (University of Evansville Press, 2018). You can find him online at https://adamtavel.com/.