Christmas Red

December 16, 2020
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Blade tips catch and knees kiss ice, my eyes searching for the one skater in every crowd who glides graceful as a god,

POETRY OF THE TIMES

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water.

-Leonard Cohen

A hundred skaters in Christmas red

circle the lake, bonfire smoke in the air,

novices laughing before blade tips catch

and knees kiss ice, my eyes searching

for the one skater in every crowd who glides

graceful as a god, like my father years ago

in his black leather racing skates, long blades

grabbing ice when he tucked low and tight,

left arm behind his back, right arm beating

time as he carved heavenly arcs, disciples

sailing fast in his draft as they followed.

And since it is Christmas, my eyes search

the crowd for Jesus, the one who walked

on the Sea of Galilee without needing water

to freeze, another Jew who davened

in a prayer shawl like my father’s and chanted

the Sh’mah. I can see them skating together,

my father’s red scarf, Jesus’ tunic a shiver

of light as they mirror each other’s form,

an ache in their ankles, their joy of speed

and wind and rhythm before they fell,

two young men in search of miracles.

Dr Berlinis an instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.