Oct/Nov 2007 Poetry

December 18

by Scott Urban

December 18

In 2004 and 2005 a motorist vandalized the Nativity scene at a Watsontown, Pennsylvania, church by driving through the display.

Perhaps he's been laid off the week before,
or had one too many Rolling Rocks.
The pick-up jumps the curb, the flimsy stable
in his headlights. "Who's going to save me?"
he might cry. "Who's going to save you?"
His bald spot smacks the cab's roof as
his tires crush the crèche. Even afterward
he still feels hollow, like the plastic angel—
blue-gowned and blond-haired—strung above the lawn.

The morning sky is as gray as the slush below,
the manger reduced to splintered kindling.
The legs of token livestock—a sheep and a cow—point
different directions. Their apathetic eyes view the wreckage
without blinking and know all are bred for slaughter.

A mangled shepherd asks who will watch his flock.
Mary and Joseph, already dazed by parenthood,
find themselves facedown in churned mud.
A bare, forsaken babe lifts an arm,
as if expecting a celestial hand
to pick him up, or at least to straighten the scene.

Only Melchior, golden cup in hand, remains upright.
He wonders if—at this point—it might not
be just as wise to hold onto it after all.


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