Her nightmares began in the week before Christmas;
screaming, fearsome trespass into the child’s mind.
The news of the day had infringed with no conscience
and stolen a bit of innocence from the six-year-old,
waking her from a terror that others could not escape.
“I don’t want Santa to come into our house,”
she said one night. “It scares me.”
“You’ll be safe, hon,” her father whispered.
“Mommy and Daddy will protect you,”
her mother said. “And your Guardian Angel, too.”
“Why didn’t their Guardian Angels
protect them?” she asked,
in the direct distillation of thought
only a child can accomplish.
Her father closed his eyes and drew a breath
before telling her:
“Because so many little kids
and their Mommies and Daddies
fear this world more than we used to,
God needed more brave little angels
to help them feel protected.”
As snow fell outside the bedroom window,
the little one lay down with her mother,
satisfied for a bit, sleeping safely in her arms.
Her dad thanked God for her and that
she heard not the door open and close twice.
When she awoke in the morning,
little Emma called into the kitchen,
“Daddy come see, come see.”
There in the night-fallen snow, a score
of snow angels had ringed their blessings
upon a home and a little girl.
I’m sorry if this doesn’t really sound like a poem. I’ve been struggling with these feelings for a long time and I have difficulty expressing such things sometimes except by writing them out for myself. Some folks say I’m some kind of storyteller, but I often lack the emotional capacity to couch thoughts of such horrible things as the Newtown tragedy and other mass shootings in words. As a father and grandfather, this piece helped me gather a few in one place. May all our angels rest in the peace of this season, and all the seasons to come.
© 2018, Joe Hesch