mom and i on christmas

the train was empty

but for mom and i.

i leaned against her.

mom closed her eyes.

 

we rode in silence.

neither saying a thing

about the christmas season,

or what santa brings.

 

my mom was all i had.

i had no toys or friends.

our home was hidden

where the traintrack ends.

 

the train passed lights–

red, white and green.

the train passed homes

with christmas trees.
i wished there’d be

a christmas tree

for mom and me.

 

the train’s power flickered.

mom sat upright.

i said, ‘we’re ok, mom.

it’s just the lights.’

 

she held me close,

i nestled closer still.

i felt warm tears

begin to spill.

 

my jeans were wet,

my shoes had holes.

my hair was dirty,

i was awful cold.

 

then the train

began to slow.

when we got to the end,

it would be time to go.

 

an old man climbed on,

he was a well-dressed guy.

he wore a grey suit,

and a bright red tie.

 

he sat down alone,

he also looked tired.

he carried large bags,

that i coyly admired.

 

there was a coat in one,

a small tree in another.

he smiled at me.

i looked at my mother.

 

“merry christmas, young man,”

said the old man to me.

“i’m proud to see you have the gift

of love in your family.”

 

i remembered his face

from pictures i’d seen,

when he vanished

from the place he had been.

 

he’d left his bags,

with tags,

for mom and i.

 

*note: this story is a contest entry for susanna leonard hill’s 7th annual holiday contest. holiday-contest. thanks to jilanne hoffman for the heads up on the contest.

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where you’ll find me

you might need to pick my dead body up off the ground while the supporters cheer and the protestors wail and their guns pour smoke out the barrels.

you might need to bail me out when i have welts on my head and dried blood in my hair and in a trail down my nose.

you might need to drive to washington dc to pick me up after the march has concluded and nothing has been changed but it happened and we didn’t let it die.

you might need to get me from the hospital with spray paint on my hands and nightstick bruises all over my chest, welts on my black eyes and two less teeth in my gums.

you might need to follow me from the office of the trucking company where i slashed their tires and they’ve called the cops and aren’t letting me off easy and are calling me terrorist.

you might have to pull me out from under the tires of the paddywagon and undo the handcuffs i locked to people on both my sides.

you might need to wash oil from my eyes and nostrils and earlobes and from my tongue because you found me drowning in the spill.

you might need to bring me food because we all gave it to all the starving people who were somehow worse off than us.

you might need to watch me get torn to pieces by the mob because you knew i would never join them.