“The Cardinal Is the Only Bird of Christmas”

Afternoon of another waning year,
with dusk coming early and deepening fast,
my love and I trimmed front porch greens,
hung cheery lights and gaily striped ribbons,
put up our share of bright bows and lacy tinsel,
draped our Christmas tree with shiny doo-dads
stored in our attic since last time, all the while
caroling giddily as we decked our halls in finery,
fal lal la, we sang, fal lal la, ’tis the season ….
Then, just when we could not imagine more joy,
hosannas of birds—that’s the right phrase, I hope—
chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, wrens, robins,
a whole gang of sprightly denizens,
swooshed in from nearby woods and fields
to feast on winter’s banquet at our yard’s edge:
scarlet holly berries, blue-black pearls of sour gum,
and those clustered morsels of bittersweet,
tiny orange globes shedding f’ractal light
on Northern cardinals, birds of soulful folklore,
visiting spirits of those we once loved and lost,
ornaments now gracing bare limbs of shrubs,
there among fruitfall and a dust of snow.

Bob DeMott
Christmas, 2017


Painting 2015 by Marsha Karle