Something for the Tree

Putting up holly for Christmas
I again knew, with evergreen sense and excitement of red berries,
of your presence. First, I thought it was you
a sense of your sweet spirit extended there, outlined
by one miniature branch with a leaf at its end.
And as knowledge of you tumbled in from things around the room
I saw and heard you in a memory-picture of the last two days:
caring for the people in this house, with incessant detail,
innovation, talking, listening, cooking, making things,
every minute owed,
and the pointed touch with humour
was in the sharp but sheathed-paw holly; and your dear wisdom.
Then I thought it was You
fingering in the holly and in all that grew
touching upon our world with Your great hand
and in this house conveying Your presence, original,
through the knowing or half-knowing sweetened temper of one
(who prepared the small twig-bunches in the next room),
through the unknowing, unutterably delightful
two who grew not far from the ground as yet
(now upstairs and – at last – asleep),
through me too, equally (though I am bound
by a slack-reined laziness, and atheism).
The decorations are done now. What do I speak of?
Of a moment, dear, when something came through to me –
sharper and gentler than before, this time with blood
of suffering of yours and Yours – and the green life there
ever more strongly than before –
and I know what love and Life can mean, this Christmas.

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