. . . he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem
and its vicinity who were two years old and under. . .
Breughel painted piercing spears, pleading moms,
Fighting dads, babies dying everywhere;
venal copyists painted mild plunder--
marauding soldiers seizing geese and hams.
The Royal Family, for its holiday,
bought a copy that painted out the worst
of Herod’s slaughter--dead and dying babes--
to celebrate a merry Christmas-tide.
That Christmas, Ken and June had my bedroom;
Norma her own; I slept in Mom and Dad’s.
June was pregnant, although not great with child;
Fads! said Mom of Ken’s portable TV--
Our cat, who always had been so reserved,
Nimbly climbed to the star topping the tree,
toppling it, which startled Mom’s parakeet,
Tweetie, who flew with blue and gold feathers
to the kitchen, where she perched on the edge
of an open drawer filled with silverware,
pecking at her mirrored self, until Dad,
unaware, slammed the drawer, killed the bird.
Upstairs, June was surprised by labor pains.
Mom delivered the still-born baby,
swaddled it, laid it on her ironing board,
said tenderly, life’s bountiful but hard.
Gerry Hendershot, 82, is a new poet (and retired health statistician), active in many poetry writing and discussion groups near to and far from his home in University Park, Maryland. He has pioneered the use of poetry to illuminate scripture in many churches, and is developing an adult course with an art historian on theology, poetry, and art. His poems are under review by Image Journal, Round Table Literary Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Better than Starbucks, and Able Muse.
The Ekphrastic Review
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