St. Stephen’s Church, December Night

And as they entered the great hall
winter deep in the bones,
feet heavy, finger-tips waxen
each one holding the wooden door
for the one who was slower,
or left behind. Outside the streets iced
and wind shined, pocked with the frozen sparkle
of spit and phlegm. The snow coming on hard,
and the only other movement in the night,
the steady trail of homeless trudging towards the light
of the church. And the children as they arrived
strangely beautiful in their shyness
clutching their mother’s hands, runny noses,
bright wind-burned faces turned to the candles
on the table, steam of the soup bowls.

The men sat in groups at the back, or alone,
pale and grey, like ashes fallen from a distant fire.
As the diners settled, the tall man with a matted beard,
stood up and said: Remember Abraham in his tent; how he
was visited by three angels disguised as ragged
travelers? They were given bread and wine.
Then the crippled, hunched man, who could
not lift his head, said I would like some wine.
Everyone laughed, and the woman with no teeth,
reached into her shopping bag and unscrewed the cap
from a gallon jug. A quiet settled over the room
as she passed around the drink, glasses tipped
to the raw comfort of shared kindness.

~ Rosemary Griebel

Rosemary Griebel’s award-winning poetry has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, on CBC Radio, literary magazines, anthologies, chapbooks, and on public buses. Her long awaited collection of poetry, Yes., was published by Frontenac House in 2011, and was short-listed for the Pat Lowther Memorial award, the Gerald Lampert award, and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. Rosemary Lives in Calgary and is working on a project to build a new Central Library in Calgary’s East Village.

To read more of Rosemary’s poetry, click here.

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