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.
Christmas Eve among the Bristlecone Pines
© Dan Guenther 2015
You traverse the snow-swept switchbacks
following the trail of your Norse grandfather,
a back country skier fascinated by the bristlecones,
the ancient pines that shelter bighorns from the winds.
Far below Denver’s lights stretch away to Colorado Springs,
and on Christmas Eve
the traffic flow westward on I 70 brings
winter pilgrims from as far away as Chattanooga.
In times past the liturgical day started at sunset,
with the faithful gathering at a high place to give thanks
while the heavens swung around the North Star,
that celestial body your grandfather called Odin’s eye.
Over in Aspen and Telluride yuletide feasting has begun,
and the snow angels, with all their certainties and style,
mix with mere mortals
who came to leave behind their year of regrets:
Your grandfather said that the business of living
had to do with simplicity and that wasn’t simple,
and that the beauty of the Rocky Mountains
reflected the glory of its maker.
You came here yearning for answers beyond your reach,
for everything within the cycle of faith and the firmament,
to an alpine grove already a thousand years old
when the Emperor Titus laid siege to Jerusalem.
Wishing you a literary holiday—and the other joys of the season.