Issue > Poetry
Jack Kristiansen

Jack Kristiansen

Jack Kristiansen exists in the composition books and computer files of William Aarnes. Kristiansen’s poems have appeared in such places as FIELD, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Literary Review, Stone’s Throw Magazine, Sunsets and Silencers and Main Street Rag.

Nobodies

after Breugel's "The Census at Bethlehem"
. . . but also nameless people
              —Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen,
               Bruegel: The Complete Paintings
As Pieter Breugel the Elder depicts Bethlehem,
people gather in the village not to be counted
but to pay taxes.  
               
                             The late arrival of the Holy Family
occurs not centuries before but years after these townspeople
were baptized in the sturdy, cross-tipped church
across the frozen river.  

We can identity a Mary
atop the donkey and maybe a Joseph walking ahead.  
All the other people, even the tax collectors,
even if christened, are nobodies, a crowd
of dutiful nobodies handing over their money,
two unlettered nobodies hoping to find their names
written in the record, an anonymous woman
bent down to tug an anonymous child along,
other nobodies returned to their nobody chores,
in the yard of a ruined castle four nobodies
framing some nobody's house.

                                                     We can see
how the snow will glow a while after the sun sets.  
And we know the kind of night this Mary will have.  
Has the nameless but famous innkeeper stayed inside—
that lone nobody looking down from above?
             
Nobody chickens peck the snow, nobody crows
take flight, and a nobody hog submits to slaughter.

Nobody children, whose mothers are nobodies,
chase and tussle in the snow, slide about on the ice.
Nobody can hear them shout each other's names.

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