Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

Late October in the Florida Panhandle
was composed of ashen skies,
colorless landscapes,
& endless gray days.
A Christmas without sledding,
outdoor ice skating,
snow ice cream,
& bone-rattling, teeth-chattering cold
was “fake Christmas,”
according to the Northerners,
& Pensacola was the summer place
that ceased to exist during the holidays.
Our cold was a wet cold
that blew through your clothes,
penetrating the pores of your skin & scalp
so that you wanted to go nowhere,
for there was nowhere to go
but inside
somewhere.

Mother had once planned to wear the golden crucifix
she had worn as a child on her wedding day,
but she had put it away
when she had put away her husband & Catholic faith.
That cross with the corpse
had meant more to her than her wedding band ever had,
but David’s diamond solitaire outshone them both,
& in the Church,
there was no place for a symbol of death
to be worn around one’s neck.

Mother & David had been used to having intimate relations
& to put off marriage would be to jeopardize their temple worthiness,
for it was hard to go back to holding hands
after having had carnal knowledge of one another,
so Mother had opted to marry civilly first—
to go & sin no more.

Sister Flossie Snodgrass was a childless widow
whose husband had been killed after their marriage of one day.
He had given her his name for keeps & one night of passion
but not a viable child for years & a will to love again.
To Mother,
Sister Snodgrass’s house was a trailer,
but to Sister Snodgrass,
it was a motor home,
furnished not with vintage-style furniture
but with furniture manufactured 30 years ago,
where every surface was cluttered up with crafts
& a new TV set sat atop an old one.

Sister Snodgrass’s television was on mute
as she fitted Mother’s dress
with pins sticking out of her mouth,
making it look like she had kissed a porcupine.
It all seemed a little backward,
for I would have thought her generation
would be the radio-listening type.
When she offered us a lunch
of soda crackers & Vienna sausage,
we politely declined,
for, according to Mother,
that was food you fed to beggars, birds & cats.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Driving Through the South on Christmas Eve

Pine and holly.jpg

Through the snow-sprayed window I see,
a Christmas tree—white, blue, and beachy;
seashells, starfish and sand dollars adorn,
shiny packages atop a white shag skirt well-worn.

The porch light is on and carolers come in shorts,
standing on the stoop in flip-flops—a casual sort;
holiday movies are playing in the living room,
Christmas lights twinkling to dispel the twilight gloom.

A lady in a sundress and sandals opens the door,
calling her husband and children away from the décor.
Candles rather than logs glow in the fireplace,
while stockings with names does the mantle grace.

Marshmallows swirling in hot chocolate bliss,
bring warmth to the silvery winter solstice;
the hydrangeas and azalea blooms will be here soon,
but in the meantime, the festivities brighten the dark afternoon.

The bells of St. Luke’s toll in the steeple bower,
as do the bells from the college clock tower;
at the Mount of Olives church, a wonderland of white lights,
shine like ten thousand halos—a billion stars burning bright.

Choirs of young schoolchildren sing in rows,
paper snowflakes completing the wintry tableau,
whilst older children perform A Christmas Carol,
donning their turn of the last century apparel.

The streets glisten with neither sleet nor snow,
but with the reflection of lights and candle glow;
a mist has imbued the balmy, breezy air,
silhouetting the trees, their branches bare.

The beauty of the beach is pristine and clear,
for ‘tis deserted this Yuletide time of year;
standing on a dune is a snowman with eyes of charcoal,
made of white sugar sand, and a conch for a nose.

Families fill polished, wooden pews for Midnight Mass,
moonlight shining through windows of stained glass,
their faces patterned like a fragmented kaleidoscope—
with the colors of awe, wonder, peace, love, joy and hope.

Strains of “Silent Night” sung in German,
followed by a Christmas sermon,
swell the hallowed, high-ceilinged space,
for surely, His presence is in this place.

Punch cups of eggnog, laced with cherry brandy,
complement a plate of pecan divinity candy.
Santa will be sated and the kids will vigil keep,
with miles of sheep to count before they sleep.

There are no sleds, or snow that blankets the ground,
nor heavy coats or scarves or boots, or days snowbound;
but Christmas here in this little town in southern parts,
is every bit as real and wonderful as those in Yankee hearts.