THE CRUELEST MONTH
Here, it’s March.
The back door was opened.
Now it’s closed.
We don’t know what to wear,
where to turn.
The petals of yesterday’s crocuses
are frightened stiff today.
And Lent, of course,
our season of deprivation.
The less you eat, the longer you live.
The dog has to go out, never mind chill below zero.
On this deserted street, through my muffled head
I hear the nine o’clock bells ringing
from the steeple of the Federated Church.
An old familiar carol.
I stop to listen while the dog sniffs
a plastic tricycle left beside the sidewalk.
“The world in solemn stillness lay” is it?
“To hear the angels sing”? Yes.
A pause, and then “Once in Royal David’s City.”
Through carelessness or a great kindness,
through the misery of March,
Christmas rises triumphant.
Now, through the instability of things,
I need this wild sweet music so much more
than I did in December’s beginning time.
There is a time to sing,
to eat and drink abundance,
a time to remember the return of light,
youth and brilliance, salvation,
the givenness of everything.
There is no one else on the street,
so I begin to sing along:
“with the poor, and mean, and lowly. . .”
The dog looks up at me, puzzling,
and wags her tail.