Christmas Eve, and the dogs are exchanging
seasons greetings over the backblocks,
the smell of a barbeque over the fence
filling the air with sacrifice,
the ritual about to commence,
the festival of gluttony and slaughter,
cooks stuffing their turkeys,
children clustering about the Christmas tree
like ants at sugar water.
All day the lists and anxiety,
the rudeness at the checkouts,
the anger in the parking lots,
the loneliness in the shuttered houses,
the ragged nativities on the lawns,
police busy and the highways choked,
suicides preparing their Stilnox,
paramedics checking their stocks
of oxygen, adrenalin, morphine.
Christmas Eve, and the long-distance phone-calls,
the Bloody Marys, the Glübwein, the priests
and the ministers sharpening their prayers, hosts
scraping and salting their grill-plates,
checking their bar fridge, their prawns on ice,
the Queen delivering her annual message,
pleading for peace and family,
regretting that her husband, in hospital for a stent,
won't be presiding over this year's hunt.
Christmas Eve, and all through the house
the tension, the expectation, the wonder.
Soon the children will be fed.
Soon they will be put to bed.
Soon the carols will begin
for a world redeemed of sin:
Silent night, crystal night...
Soon the tables will be set.
Soon the ovens will be lit.
a child is born,
unto us a Son is given",
and from the squalor of the feedlots,
the horror of the holding yards,
the abject terror of the abattoirs,
under mute, indifferent stars,
unthought, unvoiced, ungiven,
the cows, the sheep, the geese look on.