The image is fixed:
The breast of a virgin
Lactating like the melting snow
Spied by herders of beasts

The beads are strewn
Across the branches
Baubles spread along to hide
The sapless shrunk-up leaves that point
Like arrows into softened skin

The image is fixed:
A tiny preacher’s mouth
Bent and distorted
Suckling like a lamb
Taking up nutrition
Planning doomed strategies

The beast is small
Feels the warming of the earth
Gnaws at the needles from within

The image is fixed:
Hands carved like wood
Clenched around the yet-to-be
Tremored with parenthood

The beast has mandibled away
Its pregnant space
Within the branches
Eggs are lain
To mark the future,
Wreck the threat of the festive tree

The best is smaller than all of us
Havocking along the lifeline
Marking out the finite total
Of all future festivals
Crossing fingers
To prefigure
How it means to leave this world

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