CABB’s Winter

Challenge, 2022

DECEMBER HOLIDAYS

DECEMBER 20 ~ POET LAUREATE DAY

american poet laureate day

by PearlAnn SnowStar

Catherine was looking through the poetry section at the bookstore. Lots of classics, but she wanted something new. Sighing, she continued looking.

No Kristopher to tell me which one is a good one.

She picked up an interesting book, then as she went through it, she blushed.

Why is it that current love poems dwell on lust, divorce, remarriage, and multiple partners? What happened to true faithful love?

She picked up another book. Love In Other Realms: Poetry & Prose by Melissa M Combs.

The book fell open to the acknowledgements. “Love alone is proof that there are other realms.”

She skimmed through it and decided to take it. She walked up to the cashier, a young man in his twenties, whom she recognized as John.

She approached the counter and put the book down.

“Found something interesting?” John inquired.

“Maybe, I don’t know. I might read this tonight just to make sure it’s right for our special holiday.” Catherine paused, then continued, “Maybe I should just write my own?” She shook her head.

“Oh, why not?” He smiled at her. “Who knows? It could lead to another great poetry book.”

Catherine laughed. “Or another great dissertation.”

He looked at the book. “Can’t say I read her works. So, I cannot help.”

“Thanks,” Catherine replied.

“And if you don’t like it, we don’t mind taking it back.” He smiled. “By the way, how did this ‘holiday’ start?”

“It was Jenny, a friend, who started it. That December 20th, we were having lunch, and she was looking through a list of celebrations for that day on her phone and noted that it was American Poet Laureate Day, where one person serves as Poet Laureate to encourage reading and writing of poetry. And I happened to tell a special someone about it that night.”

“I see, “ he grinned as he continued, “and that special someone thought it was a great idea?”

Catherine blushed and nodded yes. “This is our fifth year of celebrating the day by reading poetry to each other, and I wanted something different than Shakespeare or Poe or Tennyson.”

“Good for you!” He gave her a thumbs up. “Hope you enjoy the book!”

Catherine paid for the book and then walked out of the shop.

Maybe I should attempt to write a poem for Vincent? I’m no author, but maybe my own would be ok?

Shaking her head, she walked down the street.

* * *

Vincent was in his chamber, discussing poetry with Michael, who had stopped by.

“Why this interest in current poetry?” Michael asked.

“It will soon be American Poet Laureate Day and it’s a special holiday for Catherine and me. It started five years ago. It was an idea she picked up from a friend. This is our fifth year and she suggested something new and exciting. Something more in tune with modern times.”

“’There’s nothing wrong with you for falling in love with what once haunted you. If anything I’d say that you’re a little braver than most – that you have a little more faith than most – that you were willing to dive deeper than most’.”Michael smiled. “That is from Melissa M Combs. She is very new. Young enough to be your daughter, even mine. Glad to see that even in your advanced age you are interested in new and exciting things!”

Vincent gave him a look and Michael laughed. “Hey, we’re all getting up there. I noticed that your young adult children are not down in the Tunnels today.”

Vincent sighed. “They have other matters to attend to.”

“Like I do.” They hugged. “Got to get back Up Top to my worldly life.” Michael smiled. “Say, maybe you should write a poem for Catherine yourself. You do a lot of writing.”

“Only in my journal and just notes to Catherine. I am not a poet.” Vincent paused.

“Well, you’d certainly make a good Audible reader of stories and poetry. And if this little holiday is just between you and Catherine, why not? Who knows? You might be brave enough in ten years to let it see the light of day and get published. And then…”

“Michael,” Vincent raised his hand, “let us not get carried away.”

“Ok, but, seriously, if you are deciding to shake things up, give it a try. Won’t hurt and that will definitely be something besides Shakespeare.”

“Shakespeare knew best.” Vincent looked at him.

“We all know best for ourselves what we need to know.” Michael laughed at the quizzical look on Vincent’s face. “Look, it’s great to treasure and reread Shakespeare, Tennyson, Blake, and all the classics. But it also helps to try something new too. Think about it? I think Catherine would love you reading something new and coming from you…” Michael winked. “Could bring back that old spark.”

“Michael,” Vincent growled. “We are not young.”

“Yeah, but you are not dead, either.” Michael chuckled as he walked out of Vincent’s chamber.

* * *

All too soon, that special holiday was here. Catherine sat at a desk in her brownstone apartment living room. She was wearing a simple soft pink gown. She was looking at what she had in her notebook.

“Well, it has taken days, and I’m just not totally happy, but it is what it is.” She gently tore the sheet out of the notebook. She got up and looked around the apartment. There was a Christmas tree in the corner, decorated by the children, and a few boxes already under the tree.

She heard the soft knock on the door and smiled as the door opened.

Vincent was wearing a white turtleneck, and brown slacks, with red boots up to his knees. His cloak was over the outfit.

“Catherine.” He closed the door and walked up to her. They kissed tenderly.

“Happy Poet Laureate Day, Vincent.”

“Happy Poet Laureate Day, Catherine.”

Smiling at him, she looked him over. “I don’t see a book. Did you leave it here?”

“No.” He reached inside his cloak and pulled out a sheet of paper. “This year, I wanted to write you a poem instead.”

She had a surprised look on her face. “That’s funny. I, too, wanted to do a personal poem.”

“Shall we begin, then?”

She nodded yes and walked over to the desk and picked up the sheet. “It’s not perfect, I had to re-write it so many times.”

“Shall we get comfortable?” he asked as he motioned toward the sofa.

“Of course.”

They walked over to the sofa and sat down next to each other.

“I feel like I am back in high school.” She blushed. “Who goes first?”

He looked at her and smiled. “Perhaps you?”

“Aha! I’m not the only one who is nervous. Perhaps we should find a poetry book…”

“Catherine,” he spoke in a soft gentle voice. “Whatever you wrote is perfect for this day.”

She sighed and looked at the sheet of paper. “Ok, Mister Insecurity. But the same applies to you as well.”

Clearing her throat, she began.

“What can I say
To someone who still loves me
In every way?
I make my case by presenting
Our many years together
Thinking back recalling
Our lives of joy and sorrow
Filled with family and friends
Never assured there will be tomorrow
I take this time to mention to you
That I would not change a single thing
I will always give you my heart so true
So faithful so tender
For you, my love, I will cherish forever.”

He had tears in his eyes. “Catherine, that is so beautiful.’

She just shook her head. “I kept editing it so much these past few days. The first try was pages long and…”

Gently he put a finger to her lips. “I will treasure it always.”

“Well, guess I won’t throw this away.” She looked at him with longing.

He put his head down. “Words escaped me as well. But I did my best.”

She placed her head on his shoulder as he read.

“My dearest Catherine, my angel, my star
Do you know how precious you are
To me, to our family,
Our community.

My heart and soul remain on fire
With deep love and desire
We have our dream
And it does seem
That we have each other always
No matter how long, here, our days
Or what comes next, for eternity
You are my only love, my only beauty.

She looked at him as tears formed in her eyes. Then she attacked him. Kissing him all over.

* * *

Hours later, naked in bed together, with only a sheet covering them, they held onto each other.

Vincent broke the silence. “I take it you loved my poem.”

She giggled. “Yes, I did.”

“I loved yours as well.”

She looked up at him. “Next year, we stick to the tried and true.”

“Or maybe, a mixture of both.” He looked at her mischievously. “Such as how do I love you, Catherine, let me count the ways.” He nibbled at her ear. “I love your ears.” He nibbled at the other one. Then started down her neck. “I love your soft skin and sweet scent.”

She started laughing. “Oh I love Poet Laureate Holiday! Thanks, Jenny!”

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