On a December night,

our town gathered along the river park

with lawn chairs and quilts, hooded and scarved

for the Christmas boat parade:

each vessel lit double - one a reflection,

the other a vivid glimmering

against the darkness of the far shore.

From reindeer music to angel choirs,

the season boomed through speakers

strapped on decks; luminous

and intricate displays floated by,

black space between.

Out of one dark silence,

candlelight wavered from a live nativity -

cavelike; the only sound small,

from an infant.

The woman had lifted it

in pramsuit and cap, rocking,

but the cries continued, fluent and clear

across waters and the hushed shore.

The lamb and ewe tethered off-side

stirred and paced, looking soundward.

Then - from the lamb - a tremulous call,

again and again...

and the baby stilled,

the crowd ashore applauded

as the scene moved and vanished,

bleating, into night

and a flicker of memory.

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