Posted in Joseph Hesch, poem, poetry

Silent Night in Arbor Hill

Sheridan Avenue, Albany, N.Y.
Sheridan Avenue, Albany, N.Y. (Photo credit: chuckthewriter)

I saw them emerge from the shadow of shadows
that blanketed the alley connecting
Orange Street to Sheridan Avenue,
a vacant-eyed lane of abandoned houses
you wouldn’t wish to travel in
well-strapped daylight. Into the hazy edge
of a lemon-light circle beneath the lone
strobing street lamp they edged,
this young couple and their baby.
Behind him, the young man dragged
a shopping trolley that held a suitcase,
some groceries and a few presents.
The young woman held her infant close
against her breast to protect it—
from the cold or the city, I couldn’t judge—
as the snow decided it was its time.
As I drove past, upon the railings
of the darkened doorways, tiny lights
blinked and from within one a familial
brightness shone as they entered.
A once-a-year peace came over all
of us in that place, at that time,
and I thought “What a fine night,”
that silent night in Arbor Hill.

© Joseph Hesch 2013

This is the true Christmas Eve story of leaving my office in the old Times Union newspaper building during my years working there, inside the eastern edges of the Arbor Hill neighborhood in downtown Albany. I couldn’t believe what I saw, either. But there they were, this tiny family. That tableau has stayed with me for seven years. And today, between noon and 1:00, it became yours, too. A most peaceful and joyous of holidays to you all, friends.

– Joseph Hesch

© 2013, poem,  Joseph Hesch,  All rights reserved

Hesch Profileproduct_thumbnail-3.phpJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York , an old friend of Bardo and a new core team member. Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.” He is also a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group and featured in their 2013 poetry anthology Petrichor Rising.


Writer and poet who's spent decades writing for The Man. Still do. Except now I'M the man.

5 thoughts on “Silent Night in Arbor Hill

  1. A sweet story, Joe. Brings a picture of Albany and upstate winters vividly to mind and made me smile. We used to go to Garberville quite a lot and often pop off to Albany at some point during our stay. Love the rugged beauty of that area.

    Curious that you used “trolley” and not “cart.” British v American. ???

    Thank you a fine Christmas contribution, Joe, and welcome to Bardo. Very much look forward to more from you.

    Warmest regards to you and yours for the holidays and new years.


  2. What a rich “slice of life” peek you’ve given us in this piece. It makes me want to know this couple’s story and I wonder where they ended up…interesting parallel with the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Some good phrases and alliteration in your poem. I especially liked ” the hazy edge of a lemon-light circle…”. Have a Merry Christmas and stay warm! 🙂


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