This poem appears in the Spring 2023 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.


On Christmas Day the hoarfrost’s sheen
Of silver, red, gold, and green,

Will play like light inside a prism,
Then scatter in a vapor-schism.

Briefly, tonight, the marrow bone
Of mystery, the whole, is known.

The congregants are swearing by it
Throughout the interlude of quiet

After midnight, when the bonds
Of harmonies rise up like fronds,

Branching out across the vault,
Until each sees the other’s fault.


A painting near the altar depicts
St. George, a soldier who’s transfixed

His horse’s dragonish reflection,
The foil of his divine affection,

Stabbing it earthward with his lance
Until there’s nothing left to chance

But emptiness, which God is in
Like forgiveness for a sin.

A hinge away, a Sienese
Madonna stares, as if she sees

A guest approaching in the night.
She holds up her infant like a light.