Dan Guenther is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a regular contributor to this blog. The author of four novels, his Glossy Black Cockatoos was the 2010 Colorado Authors’ League award selection for genre fiction. His collection of selected poems, The Crooked Truth, won the following year for poetry.
Waiting for Christmas West of Denver
© Dan Guenther 2014
The dogs bark at some unseen presence during the night,
and I rise to find our eldest grandson working away at Minecraft,
a sandbox independent video game invented by a Swede.
His older sister is also awake,
researching her science project,
a report on those fossilized invertebrates
that turn up along the edges of country roads.
Three years ago their mother spent Christmas in A-Stan
with the Army Medical Corps,
while their father and I decorated a small juniper we cut locally.
He was a tank commander at that second fight in Fallujah,
a city on the Euphrates dating to Babylonian times,
and still favors his left leg
when we clean old snow off the back deck.
During December we never really know
what to expect along the Front Range west of Denver,
with daily changes in the forecast.
But if it is warm we will hike the Red Rocks formation,
a sandstone monolith once the bed of an ancient sea,
where a scholar uncovered remains of a giant ground sloth,
one of the megafauna lost at the close of the Pleistocene.
If it snows we will watch the Black-capped Chickadees
tussle by the birdfeeder for suet and safflower seeds,
and I will try my hand at Minecraft, a game about building
structures to protect against nocturnal monsters.
Should an upslope wind from the Gulf of California
bring in freezing rain, everything will ice up,
driving the big elk herd in Evergreen down along the foothills:
May our grandchildren find peace this Holiday despite the weather,
escaping into their new devices while enjoying
the gift of our unconditional love,
that cosmological constant holding our families together.
Where do your heart and mind take you as you wait?