That Time We Said We’d be Back on the 23rd
Two days before Christmas, the field was two feet deep with frozen snow ---
of course he had to try and drive his van through it, never mind it was pushing twenty
it was still a four wheel drive: it got stuck the hour before he was supposed drive
us all home, as he phoned every tow truck driver within a ten mile radius,
the snow beat down again like a villain in a bad sequel: a casual, calculated fury.
By the time he had finally run out of phone credit, every road leading out
of the village was most definitely blocked, by which time it was almost ten o’clock
in the morning, you had discovered a bottle of vodka in the sofa and we
unanimously agreed the only solution was to start taking shots.
Two days before Christmas we danced around the cabin stove to a beat
played on wine jugs and that one broken djembe, emptied expired
Kahlua into lukewarm milk, not knowing if we’d ever make it home,
then, not-caring as the outside world got reduced to silver silhouettes.
As we staggered outside to squat in the snow you pointed out the Big Dipper.
Our piss burning yellow pools into the whiteness, you said the slaves called it
the Drinking Gourd: a secret path that led North to where we were standing.
At some point he turned to me, said “Yeah, so I read your diary.
You’re a good writer. You shouldn’t be scared of me.”
I said “As long as you pretend this conversation never happened.”
And maybe that’s what Christmas has always been:
what is family but a millennia of motley combinations of heroes
and villains who would never meet but for the will of God,
a mutual need for warmth: fire and body heat.
Carpenter, virgin bride, baby, donkey, sheep.
The Awkward Girl, an Artist, the Guy with a Car.
Lying in the snow in rural Ohio.
Three drunk Kings on holiday, looking up at the stars.