author’s note:

This poem, written on Christmas Eve 2007, has become my Christmas tradition…

But traditions change over time.  This year, I’ve added a subtitle.

 

CHRISTMAS BAT
(or: The Birth Pains of Winter)

In this season, when we recognize
the birth of bright new life
in the darkest dark…

I wanted to give you all
an appropriate poem
of sweet Christmas light

but my heart stubbornly refused
to sing of our ideal Yuletide—

instead, this bat poem
demanded to be born:

   Cold cave and dung—
   there I hung
   wet with stalactite drops

   until a vampire bat perceived
   how tedious torturous time
   had finally ripened me—

   its bite woke me up—
   those painful fangs burst me free!—

   so that I might soar
   and sow my seed.

Some poems won’t let you go
until you open their cage
so after I wrote that batty rhyme
I felt quite relieved

until the child within me said,
“Okay—
 now you can warm me
 with a real Christmas story!”

I tried (but in vain)
to placate
that hungry innocent
with this insight:

  doesn’t that flighty verse
  actually speak of Christmas?—

  of new life born
  from the darkest night?

 

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

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