He gave her a leather bound book; she gave him a Hickok belt,
Gifts that were more than they could afford; less than they felt.
Their little Christmas tree was the top of a Scotch pine pruned
From someone else’s Yule; but it was with affection bestrewn
Along with cardboard candy canes and decal angels she’d cut
From a holiday magazine that told what was really a chestnut,
And not just a Chinkapin burr
The future, it seemed, held for them a large measure of doubt
Two more packed semesters in grad school until he’d get out
Yet – really – how was a degree in Eng. Lit. to be meaningful
In a world quick shutting to those whose talent is mere fanciful -
To a guy with a Selective Service number set low in the teens
With a wife (best one ever) - but who now can’t fit in her jeans;
A small miscalculation in October
So, last night in bed, each deeming the other asleep, a blessing
Had asked; if not them - oh, let what they had part in begetting
Live and partake of some new world this pair of lives bettered
By bringing a life to repair the wounded, let loose the ensnared.
And while they held hands and saw outside the gathering storm
The little unlighted tree seemed to glow and grant them be warm;
They heard, “Your gift is more than myrrh.”
After the Air Force, when I started grad school, my wife and I met a couple there; good folks, younger than us and brimming with hope for the future. She was a very ornamental oriental, and he was a big ‘ol southern Oklahoma kid. We TA’s were generally a poor lot, but they were poorer than most. When I graduated and we left to a new job, they took a cat off our hands that had come to us on Christmas - "starving,” according to my wife. I always hoped things worked out well for that pair-to-be-threesome. I was thinking of them when I wrote this.
(I don’t particularly care what happened to that blasted cat, though.)
". . . it's all about the sacrifice/And the weapons you choose." Tonic - Casual Affair