Thurman P. Woodfork

CHRISTMAS AND SANDBAGS

Thurman P. Woodfork: Christmas and Sandbags“What’s that, Sarge; it’s Christmas?”
“Yeah, Dummy – don’t you see the tree?”
“Yeah, sure, I can see it, Sarge, but that
Don’t make it Christmas to me.”

It’s hot, and it’s humid, and it smells –
not at all like Christmas at home – the
faint aroma of nuoc mam and fields
fertilized with human dung perfumes
the pungent air.

“It’s gonna take more than a turkey
Dinner and a lousy one day truce
To make it seem like Christmas to me,
Not even if that was a ten foot spruce!”

Sarge shifts his position against the
sand bags and stretches lazily. He
eyes the grumpy young man sitting
beside him, then remarks, with faint,
deliberate amusement:

“Getting’ a little homesick kid? Want to
Take a seat on ol’ Sarge’s knee?”
“That won’t help, you dirty old man;
It’s here-sickness that’s botherin’ me.”

Sarge chuckles gently and takes a swig
from the slightly rusty, still cool can of
beer he’s holding. He reaches down,
fishes out another can, and passes it to
his moody companion.

“Aw, here, have another beer or two, and
fire up that old guitar;
We’ll sing some carols, and after a few,
You might even see a star.”

Rob takes the beer. “Besides, you’re too
skinny and ugly to be Santa,” he says
with a slow, reluctant grin, his funk
beginning to fade a little. He reaches for
his guitar as the other men move closer.

Rob gently strums a chord or two,
Then quietly begins to play;
The others listen silently for a while
In the gathering dusk of the day.

High above them, in the fading light,
a bright star moves across the sky. It’s
actually a satellite, but its appearance at
that particular moment seems more than
appropriate. The men begin to sing:

“Silent, night, Holy Night,
All is calm all is bright;
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly Peace…”

It’s nowhere near heavenly, but for the
moment it is, just now for them, peace
enough. They’ll settle for it. Not exactly
a miracle, but it’ll have to do.

Submitted for the December 2008 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Glad Tiding of Great Joy