Elizabeth Scanlon: Clarion Canticle

Christmas came around the corner like a thug,
it wanted my wallet or heart and didn’t care which.
The trickling down my ribs reminded me of dear blond Lynch
saying titsweat is the worst, and the wet wool at my pits
made me feel bad for the sheep, who never imagined
itself dyed crimson and stinking of Tiger Balm.
The calendar was feeling salty, looking for a fight,
letting me know there was no getting out of this one
like Dean DiNardo in kindergarten, who’d come at you
on the playground with his eyelids turned inside out,
proving from the start he was the craziest on the block.

But none of us were crazy. It made sense to run
from the German Shepherds left leashless in the 70s
who’d form packs in those hours before their owners came home
from the base or the plant. If your pants highwatered,
they’d call you Bama, call you grit – being country the worst
insult in a dying city. Poor Delmarva,
her mama heard it on the radio weather report,
thought it was pretty. (What a Bama, what a grit.) (It was pretty,
because beauty comes from confused compounds.)

Christmas is coming whether you like it or not,
the green dog of family left howling,
hungry as a fattened goose.
Christmas will sell your kidney for a new stereo
and your little narrator will witness the wedding
of Dean and Delmarva at the Arlington Metaphysical Chapel.
Both bride and groom will die before they tire of each other,
so luck is theirs. Luck loves childhood sweethearts.
Hearts hang twinkling lights on the front stoop.

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