December 24th

Sue Vickerman

It is almost five. It is Heiligabend.
The forecast shows snow cartwheeling over Saarland.
The sun goes down on your cul-de-sac,
on your parents' small, well-tended garden.

Your yard is swept. Your steps are gritted.
Your mother's broom rests in an apple tree's elbow.
She hurries outdoors at the very last minute
to dead-head a rose.

Your father is on the point of lighting
the candles on a tree dug out of the Saar Basin
which, from the plane, glittered
like a Christmas card.

You have always told me how the waiting
was hard; was the best thing of all: how,
when the bells finally toll across the valley,
the whole village feels holy.