Siobhan Jean-Charles

Woolly Bear Caterpillar in December

There is no retreat from nostalgia, it seeps into every snow den
and every mantle of leaves. There is no camouflage
from stale gingerbread houses and smudged frosting, from Christian songs,

both soft and soaring, worshippers finally breaking
free of whispers, stone-hard pews, genuflection on a trampled
merlot carpet, as if they have the four weeks of Advent out of the year

to rejoice. I can’t pump my veins full of glycerol and count down from ten as my heart
slows to a stop. I can’t burrow away from cold stares and snide comments over
dinner. You exile me then ask why.

Meanwhile, Christ has dwindled down to a baby
in a manger, emptied of brimstone and fire. There is a million-years-old god behind his
painted blue eyes. Satan morphed his skin into scales in Eden, but his tongue was always forked.

Botticelli paints Jesus clinging to his teenage mother’s neck, chubby arms feigning helplessness.
And I almost begin to forget the way her fingers fit around my own neck
like a collar. I’m tired of kisses to the knee after you

push me to the concrete. You stoned me in the Old Testament but now preach mercy. An
apology from you would be like losing
my virginity, the recreation

of a fantasy. My mother has mastered the art of hibernation, buried beneath an avalanche
of silence. The frostbite is killing her. I won’t
wake up with the spring melts and find that you were ever sorry.

Siobhan Murray is a junior from Salisbury University.