The scene: a small town; Anywhere, U.S.A. in a cottage small and neat
by Donald Peeples
She sits rocking and sewing, a kitten curled up at her feet.
The warm glow of the open fireplace sends shadows dancing 'cross the walls
Reflecting like rainbows out of space from her Christmas tree's colored balls.
Tinsel adds its sparkling magic, to the multi-colored sight
Shimmering as if alive, in the stillness of the night.
The crackling of the burning fire is the only sound she hears
Save for the ticking mantle clock, that has marked the time for years.
She stops her rocking, lets her needle come to rest, and glances at the scene
For though it's Christmas Eve and she's alone, she feels content; All is serene.
She gazes at the tree once more; at the misshaped star atop it and feels a teardrop start
Recalling how a young, blonde moppet had carved it with a loving heart.
How two little hands had whittled, rubbed and scraped so it would be:
A Christmas present to "His Mom," to place high upon her tree.
She remembers too the years before when she was younger, nothing wanting to be had
Until the grim reality of war lay claim upon "Her Man": "His Dad."
It was nearly Christmas Day, soon Christmas Eve would pass: be gone,
Her son, thousands of miles away, and she sits waiting by the phone.
How proud he looked that long day since, when he told of his enlistment
And said, "She was not to worry, they were to act in peace assistance."
Oh how she wished his Dad were there, to give her strength and see
The man they'd borne out of their love: not yet one year and twenty.
She remembers too that first long year, when Christmas time was come
How her heart was void of cheer because he was not at home.
Then she thinks how he had called, as the stroke of twelve began
To send his love for Christmas, from across the oceans span.
So it was, upon this night: this makes what, three years?
And 'though she try with all her might she cannot hide the tears.
The ticking of the mantle clock brings her back into this time,
And she knows within the next tick-tock that twelve will start to chime.
The clanging phone makes her start, though she knew that it would ring
And starts a pounding in her heart that hearing his voice could bring.
She hears him say, "I love you Mom," and, "how very much she's missed,"
Then in a soft voice says, "I'm coming home." and signs off with a kiss.
Then as her eyes fall on the tree; she feels an unknown cold
For the little off-side wooden star was perfect: made of gold.
Thus it was but three days hence when neighbors came to call
She showed a letter she'd been sent that left each one in awe.
It told, "of how on Christmas Eve, as twelve had just begun,
Their encampment lay 'neath heavy siege, killing everyone."