Christmas in Hampden
A Christmas poem is the latest contribution to the Alvarez Book Page.
You ain’t no virgin, his father said
as the boy drove west on Franklin Street
his first time behind the wheel
You’ve done this before, and he had,
one Christmas eve, a few years back
his father dead drunk and snoring
in the bed upstairs when Midnight Mass
let out and their maroon and crème
‘53 Plymouth blocked traffic on Lyndhurst street
with its rear end protruding where Pop
had tried to park it without the bicycle
in the trunk for his daughter because the shop
was closed when he finally arrived,
half-in-the-bag and rapping at the door
before coming home to yell at his family
for the injustices of shopkeepers and closing times.
Please move the car, boy his mother unhinged
from the shouting and crying, asked him
and soon the lights of the procession
from St. Thomas Aquinas were on him,
horns beeping, and he was scared shitless
and praying for a savior to be born
in the back seat as he turned the ignition
and gripped a large white steering wheel.
The boy crossed himself and put his foot
on the clutch, shifting into reverse, the way
his father did, then backed out into the street.
From the window, his mother watched him
go into first gear for ten feet, and reverse again,
easing the car back in and over the curb.
The boy pulled the car forward and dropped
it into position—his first attempt at parallel parking.
The families drove by him in festive attire—
fathers shaking their heads, wives huddled close
and the children in the back seat once they saw
he was not much older than they were
suddenly waiving and screaming the words,
“Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.”