Then One Foggy Christmas Eve

We were singing
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
at church
instead of
Amazing Grace
and something
didn’t seem
quite right;
like
there was no verve,
no gumption,
no gratification
for caroling
to the heavens.
It didn’t seem
like the right
little ritual
for the time.

And this was,
at bottom,
the very reason
I wanted
to sing
my memoirs
at a Christmas Eve
extravaganza.

I needed
to sing
these truths:
that we must love each other,
that happiness isn’t constant,
that the brain needs melody,
and that life is like a gingerbread house:
quite messy
and prone to collapse
just when you think
you’ve got it all
put together nicely
(but pretty sweet
from start to finish).

The people
in my memoir song
sound different
than they do
in real life.

When my mother sings,
“Would you like
to be
a little elf?”
she sounds like Emmy Lou Harris
and I recall my mother,
wide-eyed and wrinkle-free,
with hair halfway down her back;
when her voice drifts down
to sing,
“Or would you like
to be
buried under snow?”
you must recall
that’s how
I’ve written
her parts
of the song.

When my family comes
to my song’s premiere
no one asks
what the song is for.
They only ask
why they all
sound different
from how they sound
in real life.

After the premiere,
we all go out
to eat fried rice
and steamed veggies.

We wait hours
for supper
to arrive.
We don’t talk
about much,
but we do hum
along to some
jolly Christmas tunes
saturating
the air
around us.

Then One Foggy Christmas Eve