across the parking lot
shaking a tiny bell
a large, joyous man is belting:
you better watch out
you better not cry…

I pause to listen
rubbing the nagging knot
at the base of my neck
and smiling
in spite of myself

for one weightless moment
I am eight years old
propped sleepless in bed
dog-earing the Sears catalog
thick as a phone book

back in my car
the stars point the way home
my kids are waiting for me
they are counting the days
until Christmas