The Common Good
January 2004

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

by Marilyn Robertson | January 2004

Rain tick tocks in the downspouts.
Rain tick tocks in the downspouts.
We rise to ordinary time too soon returned.

Yellow buses take children away

to periodic tables, uncomfortable desks.
Bad news arrives on the gravel, wrapped in plastic
These last four days of wonder, always lost.
Before the parade has ended, we are halfway home
preparing to steer our little barks of resolution
out into a new sea as deep and unpredictable as the old.
We hover on the edge of epiphany.
In a pasture a shepherd will pause and reflect
on his solitary life surrounded by wool, and ancient
kings yield up treasure to a boy gathering stones.
All kinds of miracles will display their wares
disguised as clothespins or piano keys.
No one will ask, what is the purpose of my life?
In a sudden burst of certainty, Julian shouts
from her window in the 14th century, "All shall be well!"
Be within shouting distance. For this moment,
be exactly who you are, holy and aflame.

Marilyn Robertson was a northern California poet and folksinger who brought traditional songs and stories into elementary school classrooms when this poem appeared.

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