Kristin LaTour



It’s twelve days to Christmas—
trapped in a line of cars
humming along to Joni Mitchell:
Oh, I wish I had a river,
I could skate away on....

suddenly awash in red and blue lights
glinting off the windshield,
flashing off the garland
hanging from the pines—

red flags waving
on a hearse’s black hood

the cars of mourners:
four bulky men in blue jackets with brass buttons
three more young men in dress blues
another car-full

losing count of the uniforms
barely interrupted
by women’s puffy faces and
a wrinkled man from the VFW.

It’s twelve days to Christmas—
a glittering blanket
of satin iced snow.
My traffic light
turning red—
the procession
driving on behind me—
from the rear-view mirror.

Driving north at the green light,
my mind follows
the procession south—
three shots from seven rifles
held in fourteen white-gloved hands.
Marines who shoot blanks
at a grey winter sky.

(author retains copyright)