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Herding Reindeer

I felt my way in the dark
as daylight did in my dream
across bare limbs, through twigs,
across the roof of our backdoor neighbors’,
rustling as though with bony fingers

before it suddenly blared
as though it gripped a trumpet of sun,
and woke me up. The room
was twice again as dark as at bedtime. I felt
my way downstairs. Lights red

and yellow, orange, green, and blue—
I switch them on. Under the tree
the presents, few. (Our daughter,
whose home is away, grew up
in a twinkling.) My gaze

settles awhile on one, its corner gnawed
by the dog, whose toys must be too few—
a Nylabone, a red Kong Goodie Bone,
one treat still in, a red-tongued blue
and yellow braid (a frayed

dragon of rope) all there in the foyer—then winds,
my gaze does, upward: bears
and horses, deer and doves. The bears, it’s true,
wear mufflers and sit as toddlers do, legs out,
except for a polar bear, which strides,

and, true, the deer have collars on with bells
and there’s a host of Santas; still,
it is as though, within this room’s four walls
of books, the night, its many star fields, bent,
broke into swirls of color,

the constellations multiplied, filled out,
with bodies became as angels whom you can wrestle
or cuddle. My gaze
rests on the one, a blonde
in silver and gold brocade, the trumpeter

crowning the tree; my mind’s eye
pierces the ceiling. Stars—
there are none knotting together
a living thing. That rustle—
the black dog, twitching, dreams

of herding. A prospect dawns: a field
of arctic blue with reindeer as white as the snowflakes—
no angel she indwelling. My wife
in her flannel nightshirt,
who has a cold and snores herself awake.


David Havird

David Havird is the author of two collections: Map Home (2013) and Penelope’s Design (2010), which won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. He has new poems (and articles) in recent or forthcoming issues of The Hopkins Review, Literary Imagination, Literary Matters, and Nostos. He teaches at Centenary College of Louisiana.