I’ll be somewhere else for Christmas

In December of 1998 my father made an unusual holiday journey. Less than a year earlier he’d been diagnosed with melanoma which eventually laid siege to his brain… Read more on the Baptist News Global website.

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In the Receiving Line After Worship

Mophead HydrangeaIn the receiving line after worship an elderly man
wants to tell me about his hydrangeas.
They were gorgeous last summer, he says,
but not as splendid as in 1972 when the blue

ribbon at the state fair went to his wife who,
he reminds me, was Miss Butts County
back in the 1950s and whom he still misses
every day,

especially when he eats peach jam on his toast,
which is almost every morning, except Tuesdays
when the VFW guys get together down at the café.

The people behind him in line shift on their feet
and glance at their watches while he, oblivious
to their impatience, goes on to describe for me (in detail)

the attributes of her winning Lemon Zest Mophead,
which he swears was the size of a dinner plate, or maybe
a large salad plate. The hydrangea story is taking forever

and I feel my own agitation rising, until the moment I take
his hand in mine (a gesture of care but also, I regret now to say,
meant to hurry him along) and I feel his papery fingers

which are not at all like a hydrangea, but rather
like a maple leaf in November, all that lush, green vigor
stored deep within itself, just before it releases the limb

and is airborne at last, carried on a breath,
caught up in the glory of all created things,
its final fluttering an ovation of praise.

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