TCR Holiday Special 1998
reads us a Christmas poem entitled, Gerbilicious
The silver maple shrugs its shoulders, undresses, leaving
its cover all over the floor, and it's getting cold out.
A firebush tries to warm it -- in the newly turned field,
the three gerbils (Earl and Mister Magic and Spot)
are out for exercise and exploring the furrows.
How is it that the wet of the first frosts remembers
the spring dew? Why is it the foul dirt of weeping
joins other soils in the sweet, deep possibilities
of forgiveness, and new tracks? Earl is the most
adventurous of gerbils, tracks far smells as they move
down, down toward the pond's bed. The rest
of the congregation follows slowly. Above them,
and to the side, a naked tree. There is time
before darkness, and Earl turns, and asks, "What
shall we render unto the Lord for His goodness
to us?" The other wise gerbils look to him
(Mister Magic has a piece of root in his mouth)
and the knowing they return begs human knowledge.
They know what we would not admit to,
that the meanest of drunks are the ones drunk
with power, that the way of the wicked makes itself
outcast, that the rarest of traits are generosity
and gratitude, so rare they are the only ones
truly remembered. Truly, like the spring dew at first frost.
They know because animals do not have souls,
they are souls.
To the one side, a naked tree, perfect and still.
The Cortland Review