Snow Angels

Snow Angel

Snow Angel (Photo credit: dalechumbley)

The nightmares began in the week before Christmas;
screaming, fearsome trespass into the child’s mind.
The news had infringed with no conscience
and stolen a bit of innocence from the six year old,
waking her from a terror others could not escape.
“I don’t want Santa to come into our house,”
she said one night. “it scares me.”
“You’ll be safe, hon,” her father whispered.

“Mommy and Daddy will protect you,”
her mother said. “And your Guardian Angel, too.”
“Why didn’t their Guardian Angels
protect them?” she asked,
in the direct distillation of thought
only a child can accomplish.
Her father closed his eyes and drew a breath
before telling her.

“Because so many little kids
and their Mommies and Daddies
fear this world more than we used to,
God needed more brave little angels
to help them feel protected.”
As snow fell outside the bedroom window,
the little one lay down with her mother,
satisfied for a bit, sleeping safely in her arms.

Her dad thanked God for her and that
she heard not the door open and close twice.
When she awoke in the morning,
little Emma called into the kitchen,
“Daddy come see, come see.”
There in the new-fallen snow, a score
of snow angels had ringed their blessings
upon a home and a little girl.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t really sound like a poem. I’ve been struggling with these feelings all weekend and I have difficulty expressing such things sometimes except by “writing them out.”  Some folks say I’m some kind of storyteller, but I often lack the emotional capacity to couch thoughts of such horrible things as the Newtown tragedy in words. This piece has helped me gather a few in one place. May all our angels rest in the peace of this season, and all to come.

46 thoughts on “Snow Angels

  1. Aw, this is lovely, sad and poignant, Joe. Such a tragic and awful thing to have happened and my hearts go out to the families…indeed, may our angels rest in peace. *hugs* xox

  2. Joe, This has consumed me since I first heard. I have written multiple pieces and not shared, perhaps because the emotions are fragile. You have honored the losses and addressed the reverberating effects with tenderness and grace.

  3. Unthinkable tragedies often leave us in no-(wo)man’s land, unable to make sense of what’s happened & struggling to situate ourselves in the aftermath of it all. You have, perhaps, written yourself back into a recognisable space again, Joe … & I guess that is all we can expect to do in the backwash of such horrific calamities. And you have done so with tenderness & such loving compassion ~*

  4. This is filled with love – I feel you have expressed the lurking darkness beneath all our assurances as parents to our children that they will be safe – we say this but deep down we know there are no guarantees. Calamities like the poor children recently remind all of us of that reality… and we can’t afford to dwell there…

  5. Pingback: 124 | The Arkside of Thought

  6. what a beautiful magic touch there in the end with the snow angels….and a reality too of the fear felt at the thought of someone coming in, esp in light of the recent events….def felt joe…

  7. That’s parenting, hearing and showing that angels are present, or the protection is present if angels are not in the family vocabulary. To me this narrative is expressive and poetic and symbolic. It moved me greatly.

  8. The emotions of recent events will take a long time to diminish, and free verse, or prose poetry seems to be entirely suitable for their expression. I love your poem, and the child’s acceptance of the explanation of the inexplicable.

  9. This is so touching Joe. I often have difficulty writing “poetry” around things connected to strong emotions–this piece left me feeling the sense of awe we can feel when life frames us intensely

  10. So sad, so beautiful, so apt. Heart felt writing Joe. I think this tragedy has hit me hard too because these kids were so young, so innocent of evil, and maybe God did need a few more brave little Angels to help him. Gosh, tears now.

  11. Joe, wonderful writing! It feels like poetry because it is! You write with such love and compassion — loved it! Thanks, joanie

  12. This is poetry, Joe. This is beautifully written poetry that speaks to us all, my friend. I love this piece, and what happened to those poor children is beyond sad. I can’t even find the words to express how I feel about it. Your poem moved me. It brought tears to my eyes. LO♥E it.

  13. very beautiful. it has been hell. i have an 8 and 6 year old. we went to World Market and got 20 glittery butterflies to put on the tree. i said they were “special” and would explain their meaning when they were older. thanks for writing this. there aren’t enough tears for the very concept.

  14. …this is very sad… the feeling’s undefinable and unfathomable… i just wish same tragedy will not happen again… thank you for allowing us read what your heart feel with this tragedy…

  15. You know what I like about this? That you are apologetic for this not “sounding like a poem.” I think this sounds very much like a poem, and an appropriate piece, at that. It fits, reminding us of the tragedies, and yet somehow speaking solace into being. Very, very beautiful work.

  16. “Why didn’t their Guardian Angels protect them?”

    Indeed – an obvious question and not one that just children ask.
    Children see through the lies we should never tell.

    Am I understanding you correctly? Did you have the Dad say, “God let those children be slaughtered so they could join him in heaven to help him not protect others?

    I so dislike people explaining away horror as if is suppose to be the plan of some intervening deity — if so, that is a horrible god. The child saw through the lie. Smart kid. But then someone made angels, and she believed again until the next horrible event.

    I am probably misunderstanding you, but over this last week, in my town, I heard so many people trying to make sense of horror in such horrible ways.

  17. i saw a blog post on WordPress by a woman who, as a child, had been at a school when a shooting occurred. she said the media caused her more trauma than witnessing the shootings had. your poem brought that home.

  18. very beautiful and full of thanks, truly in the spirit of the season. a tragedy like the one of recent days cannot be measured in words. your piece reflected to me the need for appreciation for who is given to us and allowed to remain. thank you.

  19. A sad time Joe and you have expressed your thoughts admirably.

    “Why didn’t their Guardian Angels
    protect them?” she asked,”

    When a child (many moons ago) I remember asking my mother something very similar to this – she couldn’t answer. I learnt from her truth.

    Then, there wasn’t media vultures who made the world a lot more scary. Sometimes the world is not a very nice place.


  20. Thank you for writing them out, Joe. We all have been challenged to channel the emotion and consider the meaning of recent events. Your tale is soothing (again!) and helpful, as well as beautiful and poetic.

  21. A beautifully expressed piece your have written, bared your soul, helped a child–and all who read this! And one more brave little girl will be happy she allowed Santa into her house this Christmas. No Matter What!

  22. CNN has asked for a week, “What can parents tell their little children to ally their fears?” And here you go sending out the answer couched in heartlight & poetics. You let us in for a moment, Joe, and it feels terrific; thanks.

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