by Noel Black
— For Mia, Nico & Lucy
“They say you need a slogan for Christmas,”
says my son at dinner,
blowing the steam from the dumpling in his split pea soup.
“Mine’s going to be ‘Destruction!’” he declares.
Then he sets his spoon down
and blows up a red balloon.
“Look, Dad — Perfume!” he says
puffing his neck with his own breath
from the red latex nozzle.
But I’m still thinking about who “they” are —
they who might have adamantly suggested to my son
that Christmas requires a personal slogan
as my mind drifts through the ages from space
scouring the dark continents of yore
for the origin and history of this statement —
tracing it backward through a genealogy of all language
like a map of lightning
that disappears into the William Blake clouds
where God, compass and protractor in hand,
looks down upon his own son from on high
as he leans in toward the manger
with Wizard’s hair and Whitman’s beard
and whispers in his ear: