Gold December Horizons Giving In
by Robert Gibbons
Kind December light.
Month with so few days
Less ominous than November's lack
of light, that light the dead own.
I recall early one morning in a boat,
when I was young, the older man pointing out
a purple mixing in the sea-green
woke me to the potential
of all color. Gold December horizons giving in
to tungsten stars piercing blackness,
or tonight, the gentle, reflective,
maternal glow of the moon
hinting at renewal.
Dual Gifts of Strength & Patience
If patience could be scraped off certain peoples’ skins, like scales, say, of fish, & saved in steel buckets, the ones the charmaids use to clean your hotel room, patience exhibited by all Central-American maître d's & bartenders, laborers primitif, those pails would hold grace & gold.
On Christmas night our neighbor, Delphino, knocked on the front door. Second time in two days. This time he wouldn’t sit, but drank the lone glass of red wine, which he nursed, standing. His wife worked Christmas. He stood in Bogie raincoat. Early fifties, he’s originally from Cape Verde. Our red couldn’t have been the first glass to quench thirst that night.
Twenty-nine years ago he saw this girl at a dance in the old country, asking her why she wouldn’t “slow dance” with him? “No,” he’d have to ask her father’s permission. So smitten with her that night was he that he told her he loved her. Even later, that he wanted to marry her. She said he’d have to write a letter to her father. He wrote. A week passed. Permission came. But he’d have to wait a year.
He couldn’t waste any time acting on the visa just arrived for America. He got married two weeks later, though, on October 2nd, in Cape Verde. By proxy. Her godfather, uncle, standing up for him. He, in his destiny, toiled at odd jobs in America. But exactly a year after he got married he met his bride, in Lisbon, for a long-delayed, patiently-postponed honeymoon.
This Christmas night he revealed plans to take her on their first vacation in thirty years -- three kids through college -- working ten years at Quincy Shipyard before it closed after the Cold War. He lays hardwood floors with a second job connecting digital circuits. Can’t imagine ever telling his wife he hasn’t ten dollars to give the daughters, if they ask.
My wife & I had the day after Christmas off from our jobs for the first time in years. We took the almost empty ferry across the harbor for coffee at the bar in the Boston Harbor Hotel. I asked the young bartender where his name etched on the mandatory bronze name-plate came from. He didn’t know, exactly, but said he had a story to go along with it. Twenty-three years ago his mother gave birth to him in Salvador City, then went to sleep.
She dreamt: in a lush garden she met a woman with long, grey hair in a long, white dress. They had a conversation, the first of many, according to our young bartender. The woman asked if she could name the newborn. “Yes,” his mother answered. She’d been wondering what to call him.
“Wember,” woman of the dream, who his mother now calls Guardian Angel, uttered.
After the earthquakes in ’81, his mother left for the States to find work. She must have felt confident leaving Wember there in El Salvador with grandparents, & guardian. Separated for ten years, they were finally reunited here in Boston four & a half years ago. She lets him know, now, whenever the Angel returns to talk with her. She’s given him her own confident air.
©2002 by Robert Gibbons