Christmas 1943
by Christine Saari

“Wake up”! My mother’s voice comes from afar
as I emerge from a deep sleep.
My father stands by my bedside, wearing his uniform.
“I knew he would come,” I say to my mother,
full of reproach. She had refused to believe.
I recite Orion’s poem,
the poem I have learned by heart for him
and go back to sleep.

When the Christ Child rings the bell on Christmas Eve
my happiness is complete:
The candles glow brighter than the year before,
The cookies taste sweeter. My father is home!

It snows on Christmas morning.
Soft flakes settle on my father’s cap and whiten my hair
as we say good bye.
Then he vanishes in the vast whiteness
and I will never see him again.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author and her father during WWII.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The loss of my father on the Eastern Front of WWII has haunted me all my life. I have tried to deal with this loss through writing poetry and a memoir and making visual art. This poem is one of these efforts, the second image above another.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christne Saari grew up on a mountain farm in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. She came to the United States in 1964 and has lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since 1971, where she works as a visual artist and writer.