“Joy to the World” by Dante Di Stefano

Dante Di Stefano


Tonight my daughter says goodnight
to every ornament on the tree

the snowman whose carrot-nose has broken
the winged seahorse
the iridescent grasshopper
the plastic snowflake
the golden doodle bounding through leaves
the pink glass octopus
the blue glass whale
the teacup diorama with the missing fawn and palm trees
the crooked angel at the top she calls mama
you get the point

she kisses the one two three burned out lights
near the porcelain baby carriage
emblazoned with the year of her birth

she is 23 months old
the same age as Angie Valeria Martínez Ávalos
the little girl found dead in the Río Grande
with her father Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez
last summer

do you remember them (?)

a picture of their corpses went viral
I had almost forgotten but then I read a poem
by Martín Espada called “Floaters”
and it all came back

I googled Óscar y Valeria
I looked at the picture

you should too
I can’t describe it

my daughter pets my face before I put her in her crib

she says goodnight to

the wooden zebra
the sparkly carousel horse
the santa made of baked clay
the mint chocolate chip ice cream cone made of green and brown felt

there is an impeachment
going on

something is happening
in Hong Kong

in Las Vegas
someone is putting
tiny cowboy hats
on pigeons
and nobody knows why

nobody knows why anymore

I’m not really thinking too hard about
that William Carlos Williams quote
about the news and poems

I’m thinking about
Óscar y Valeria
because of a poem though

and in this moment my daughter pets my face
and says goodnight
to the magi inside the snow globe in the kitchen

and I have all I want of heaven
in the crèche of my heart
in this catalog of tree decorations

the snowy-roofed church
the bear with an elf hat
a starship enterprise
the jingle bell reindeer
a silver mistletoe
the ceramic holly sprig
a rainbow-colored candy cane
the caroler sad but singing

I am sad but singing
and grateful
so very grateful

a poet in earmuffs and scarf
ridiculous as Bob Cratchit
and Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge

belling all goodnight

the way my daughter
bells love when she says my
and reaches out.

from Poets Respond
December 24, 2019


Dante Di Stefano: “This poem is about hope and sadness in this particular holiday season. Please read ‘Floaters’ by Martín Espada here.” (web)

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