Christmas Shopping

This poem first appeared in the November/December 2013 issue of the Humanist 

I’d like to sit down
next to the old man
on the bench
in the shopping mall—
the one judging the crowd
as he waits for his wife
to return with an armload
of packages.

I’d ask him if he believed
in God, and for how long
and then I’d say something
strange after he confirmed
my suspicions.  I’d say
I’ll give you one minute
to try and save my soul,
and then I’d wait for him
to laugh or panic,
or maybe stand up
and walk away

and I’d have no choice then
but to follow him for the next
sixty seconds
through the heavy crowds
of Christmastime,
giving him the unexpected gift
of his own uncertainty.

And on the way home
he’d break the silence,
describe the stranger to his wife,
the stranger questions,
and he’d tell her he didn’t know
what to say—
that all of it was just so hard
to believe.



DeMaris Gaunt


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