by Barbara Leary
Once in a while, to entertain friends,
I spin up a story to see where it ends.
While I might mess with facts, I can say with conviction
That sometimes the truth is much stranger than fiction.
Of last night, for instance, I give this depiction:
Some nights before Christmas, while home at Four Oaks,
The wind is a-howling, the fire pit smokes.
The Baileys is waiting for coffee to brew.
In a Dutch oven bubbles a savory stew.
I’m humming and poking at embers and ash,
When from deep in the forest I hear a great crash!
Into the darkness I peer warily.
Into the shadows that stretch scarily.
I wish for bright light but the fire burns low.
I stray timidly from its comforting glow.
I zip up my coat; I flip up my hood.
I must fetch a few logs from the edge of the wood.
It’s 20 long paces to get to the stacks.
I take a deep breath. I take up the axe.
If something is out there to give me a fright,
It will see what I’m made of! I’ll put up a fight!
Into the shadows I step quietly,
With my axe at my side, and what do I see?
But a monstrous Thing half obscured by a tree!
With one eye that glows red and looks straight at me!
What should I do? Should I strike? Should I run?
Should I offer it stew? Would it eat a bun?
As I ponder these questions imagine my shock
When the Thing heaves a sigh and commences to talk.
In a whisper it says, “You’re too tall for an elf.”
It takes me a bit to recover myself.
For it’s plain to see as the strange Thing draws near:
It’s no monster at all! It’s Rudolph the Reindeer!
I notice he’s staring rather intently
At the axe in my hand, so I set it down gently.
As a smile spreads over his sweet furry face,
I ask, “How in the world did you come to this place?”
He says, “I was out flying and chasing my nose,
“When sleep overtook me and caused me to doze.
“I awoke to discover I’d lost altitude!
“I’m sorry to startle, didn’t mean to intrude.
“If you’ll just point me North, I’ll be on my way,
“And the children will have presents come Christmas Day.”
“I know where to direct you,” I say. “See that star?
“Follow it North. It will take you far.
“But before we bid each other adieu,
“Tell me—are you hungry? Would you like some warm stew?”
His nose flames bright red; his agitation grows great
At the sight of the boiling pot on the grate.
And I realize then that the Thing I’d held grim
Had been more scared of me than I’d been of him.
I laugh loud as Santa: “Ho ho! Ho ho ho!
“I see there is something that you need to know.
“You’ve clearly mistaken me for a barbarian.
“That’s not venison stew. I’m a vegetarian.”