Nativity Scene Dedication

Christopher Kempf
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All the new carols are godless.  Although

the children do their best—bright faces flushed

with songs about yule bears, with blue Christmas

cacti waiting for snow.  Of salvation—

we take, these days, what comes.  Kiwanis men

serve hot dogs from their car trunks.  Cop flares

blaze.  Woodsmoke.  Lo, in the darkness, in carved

maple, in the lot of the AutoZone, oxen

fall to their knees for the Christ Child.  Tonight,

he is bestial again in his trough.  Doll-

plump.  Mongrel.  All summer the restorers

chiseled & planed.  Laid doves in newsprint.  This,

that a people—scared mostly, or alone

here on its bough of the Milky Way—might,

for once, remember its goodness.  If grace,

I mean, is not the lacquered shepherds star-

eyed with their livestock—is not, behold, the line

of sports fans filing from Chuck’s Bar, who bring

presently unto the Lord their orders

of cheese fries, myrrh, the stable fetid, foals

dropping their necks like oil pumps—what then

is the shape of deliverance?  In the window

of the AutoZone, chrome DeSotos turn

in their tiered display.  Spray waxes gleam.  Go,

a voice says.  A star, above us, unspools

its curtain of light.  Christ slumbers.  The sky

at dawn, they say on Earth, is the reflection

of trapped combustion gasses.  If it is that,

in the end, we are to pray toward—let us pray.

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