December Nineteen Forty-One
by Rose Mary Boehm

Me in a pink woolly hat with patchwork.
The blue snow crunches. Small, dark,
laced-up boots. I look down. Holding my brother’s
hand. See the end of my coat move in step
with my legs, my knees. Knitted, scratchy stockings.

The church has colored windows
and a lot of dark-red velvet. One women
sings too high. Too loud. The pastor
has a cold. Who’s this sweet little Jesus?
My legs don’t reach the ground.
Father’s voice is deep.
My brother’s voice is breaking.

The church windows are lit up
from the inside. There are shepherds
on one, a man with a red cape on the other.
Many boots trample down the snow.

The door opens to warm. The smell
of pine needles. Candle wax.
A shimmer hovers over the tree.
Fathers reads the Christmas story,
his voice halts before saying “with child.”
Then, one day, we stopped meeting there.

PHOTO: The author in a hat in (1941).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In Germany, when I was about three and a half,  during the first years of WWII, my mother took my brother and me to live in a small village in rural Germany where she’d been born, hoping to escape the war of whose dimensions we as yet had no idea. My father tried to be there for every Christmas—until he wasn’t.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A German-born U.K. national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of TANGENTS, a poetry collection published in the U.K. (2011/2012), her work has been widely published in U.S. poetry journals (online and print).  Twice winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, her new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949) was published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and another new collection will be published by Kelsay Books in the middle of 2017.

PHOTO: The author in Lima, Peru (2016).