Welcome to Poetry Friday! I’m happy to host the party this week. I imagine many of you are busy with last-minute Christmas preparations. Are your stockings hung? Your presents wrapped? Your cookies decorated? Your house clean enough for in-laws and cousins? I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year. And for those of you, like me, who have finished lighting your menorahs, I hope you had a happy Chanukah.
Christmas has often left me feeling conflicted. There seemed to be a reason to not celebrate when I was a child–we were Jewish and Christmas belonged to Christians. We celebrated Chanukah, but my parents kept it as the minor holiday that it was intended to be–new socks or boots were about as exciting as it got. But when I met my husband and visited his family, I found out that for them Christmas was an orgy of presents, with a little magic and not much religion on the side. What had I been missing all these years?!
For almost 10 years we lived near his family and celebrated with them. Then we moved half-way across the country, and it was clear that if we were going to celebrate Christmas, it would be up to me. And, er, I was Jewish. So for most of their childhood, my kids grew up without Christmas and I felt slightly guilty about not keeping their father’s family’s traditions. My now-adult kids have assured me that they didn’t feel Christmas-deprived (we did a little more present-giving at Chanukah time than when I was a kid.) This poem is for them and for me.
The latkes were eaten.
The dreidels were spun.
The candles had flickered.
The presents? All done.
My clothes smelled like oil
from donuts we’d fried.
I scraped away wax,
set menorahs aside.
I read my new books.
New socks warmed my feet.
My sled gathered dust
as snow turned to sleet.
Tomorrow was Christmas
for friends– but not me.
I’d have eggrolls to nosh
and movies to see!
–©Buffy Silverman, 12/2017
Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they bring light in this season of darkness. In the spirit of shining a light, I’m also sharing a poem (with permission) that Margarita Engle posted this week on Facebook. The poem features the seven words banned from CDC agency budget documents.
EVIDENCE-BASED, A Poem Against Tyranny
When words are banned by a president
who imagines that limiting language
is his entitlement, all poets must use
our vulnerable freedom of speech
before we lose it the way transgender people
can lose rights, the White House has lost
diversity, and any fetus might lose hope for
a healthy future, simply because
medicine is only for the rich,
and science-based facts
are prohibited—but only UNTIL
the deceptive election is investigated,
and truth once again
sets us free.
–©Margarita Engle, National Young People’s Poet Laureate
Now, more than ever, we need to share words that light the darkness. And what better way to do so than with poetry? Please leave your poetry links below.