Surviving Christmas

Poem

Appears in Winter 2008 Issue: Signs of hope
December 1 st 2008

was a movie released
by DreamWorks in 2004,
and the day after
Christmas that year
brought the largest tsunami
in recorded history—

a 600-mile crack in the floor
of the Indian Ocean,
releasing the energy
of 20,000 atomic bombs,
moving fifty-foot waves
along thousands of beaches.

The movie, which
was supposed to be funny,
had been universally
panned as “demented”
despite its star-studded
cast. The tsunami

was reviewed by then-
Secraetary-General
of the U.N. Kofi Annan:
“You wonder, where
are the people? What
has happened to them?”

Empty theater,
litter-strewn parking lot;
230,000 dead or missing.
The star of Christmas
had risen, as usual,
between the dusk

of our own foolishness
and the thick night
of natural tragedy,
and we at home, singing
songs and giving gifts,
had allowed ourselves

to believe something
we could not really see
but that had to be
more powerful than, say,
a tsunami to be worth
even thinking about.

 

Aaron Belz is a poet and essayist who has published work across a spectrum of journals, such as Books & Culture, The Washington Post, Boston Review, Paste, Fence, McSweeney's, and Fine Madness. He has published two books of poems, The Bird Hoverer (BlazeVOX, 2007) and Lovely, Raspberry (Persea, 2010), and a third collection is forthcoming from Persea. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

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