Christmas Mysteries

— Nils Peterson

Christmas morning. I wake early
to a strange noise from below,
and, in my footed pajamas, holding
on to the railing, I creep down the
shadowy stairs leading from the
chauffeur’s flat to the workroom
below. Of all things, there’s my
father bending over an electric train
whizzing round and round an oval
track nailed to a piece of plywood.
He doesn’t see me, but I watch him
caught as he is in the mystery of train
lights, ruby and white, circling in
the half-darkness. For awhile I don’t
make a sound, but watch him,
wondering about his strange smile.

All these years later, I tiptoe down
the stairs again, now understanding
the poverty of his childhood
and the jobless years of the Depression,
and I watch him and imagine him thinking –
I am able
          to give to my children,
     for Christmas,
          this wonder.

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