Caroling on Christmas Eve – a poem by Patrick Cabello Hansel

Caroling on Christmas Eve

We walk the streets where slush and ice
assault our feet, to serenade 
this beautiful busted neighborhood.
We are but bagmen and women 
bearing birth and stars and breath.
Many homes are dark, some people
peek out but don’t open. An elderly 
woman says, “thank you so much”,
and a family of eight steps onto
their porch to sing along.  As we turn
back to the church, dozens, then hundreds 
of crows begin to gather in the bare tree tops.
Their black and raucous bodies against 
the milk gray sky spook us for a second,	
but then we begin to hear their song: 
a summons to all tribes and tongues,
a welcome to the worst and the best 
behaved alike. We see no hierarchy,
no rule but their common life lived 
through wings and their love of bark
and branch. We stop for a moment
on the corner to raise our eyes to 
the bustling sky and to feel their hymn 
pull something deeper from our flesh.
I don’t know how long we will stand here.
Sometimes God serenades with beasts.
Sometimes God is serenaded 
with cold feet keeping silence.

Patrick Cabello Hansel is the author of the poetry collections The Devouring Land (Main Street Rag Publishing) and Quitting Time (Atmosphere Press). He has published work in over 80 journals, and won awards from the Loft Literary Center and MN State Arts Board. You can find him at

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