‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the manse
not a creature was stirring, not even the ants.
Instructions were spread on the floor in Chinese,
in hopes that assembly would happen with ease.
The presents were piled by the tree in a heap,
each one to be wrapped while the kids were asleep.
And mamma on the sofa, and I on my duff,
had been at it for hours and just called, “Enough!”
When out from the kitchen there glided our daughter,
who’d silently risen for a glass of water.
Away to her side stiff of limb I did trundle,
and put her to bed, all safe in a bundle.
The house like the moon in the night now fell quiet
as monks uncomplaining while on a strict diet;
when, what to my wondering ears should I hear,
but the sound of mamma cracking open a beer,
who burped after taking the tiniest sip,
with a come-hither look and a hand on her hip.
With only crow’s feet and some laugh-lines to date her,
we kissed by the light of the refrigerator:
“Here’s to you! Here’s to me! Here’s to all of our kids!”
Then she giggled at me and winked with both lids!
On top of the counter she sat on her bottom,
recalling the children, and how we got ‘em.
As dry as my throat was I nodded my head,
and we sped, hand-in-hand, up the stairs to our bed,
when, from a tree came the cry of our feline,
I made to the window the speediest beeline.
I tore open shutters, and threw up the sash,
to find Mr. Whiskers eschewing his stash.
Far out on a branch he had dragged, like some leopard,
one leg of our turkey, although it was peppered;
his fur was disheveled beyond any measure,
and he grinned at me like the more famous Cheshire:
but the look I mistook for self-satisfaction,
became in the moonlight a need of extraction.
He was caught by a forepaw in the smallest crook,
and I could tell he was stuck with no second look.
His eyes, how they darted! How he struggled and howled!
And mamma stood behind me, shook her head, and scowled.
“That miserable cat,” she said, “I just fed him!
Don’t stand there staring, Murphy. Damn it, go get him!”
Far into the night I leaned forward, reaching
for Mr. Whiskers, who now sat beseeching,
when two things occurred at one time, if you will:
I fell out, while he leapt in safe, over the sill.
Below, I was sprawled on my back on the fescue.
Now who, let me ask you, needed a rescue?
Aghast, I regarded the twinkling night stars,
hearing only the wind and the passing of cars,
and for a split-second I thought I was dead;
until, I remembered, the pain in my head.
And if not for the snow that lay hither and yon,
I’d have hit the doctor’s after hitting the lawn.
In the end, of course, Mr. Whiskers was saved;
myself, so was I– ‘twas another close shave.