Christmas Eve, Room 727

by Paul Hooker

2:19 am
Late, the night a velvet shade drawn dark
Across the stage of daylight’s tawdry show;
Emotions spent, I tune my ear to sounds
Of ragged breathing, cars passing far below.

They whoosh, rain-swept, across the bridge like breath
Drawn at intervals only she ration.
Annoyed, the oxygen monitor clangs in protest,
Indignant at her irregular aspiration.

Silent now. No car rushes by.
Where is she? Has she gone across the span
Reaching from here to wherever he has gone,
From Nazareth to Bethlehem, from pain

To pain’s reward? But no, a breath,
And on the morrow another test required.
Can she bear the future, uncertain, full of fear,
Promised, still unknown, and yet desired?

Not ready yet, she sets her jaw, her face
Turned toward Jerusalem, and I
Know where this road will end. We wait
Together for a star in a starless sky.

By tomorrow night they will have come,
The white-robed chorus their Gloria attend,
The shepherds of the straggling flock, amazed
That she can bear this journey to its end.

But she and I, we do not fear the crossing;
T’is not getting there we in our darkness dread.
T’is living with the dead among the living
While waiting for the living to join the dead.