Since we grew up and left home,
Christmas has never been the same.
There’s that photo in the photo album,
Of the suburban pre-teen Texas years:
Four homeschooled kids, dressed as
Joseph and Mary (I’m holding a doll),
A shepherd swings a staff at my head,
I look demure. He misses the shot.
My baby sister is white as an angel,
Hair electrified by her own powerful
Presence, blonde rat’s naptime nest
Her only helmet against terror,
Her eyes full of otherworldly fire.
Mom rented sheep and a cow,
Took pictures of every kid in the
Sunday school dressed as a manger
Scene. Holly’s mom nearly stabbed
Me with bobby pins that day to keep
A veil over my hair. Mom, who never
Slept past 4 AM in those days, recorded
Our voices caroling in harmony,
“Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.”
Sarah Degner Riveros was born in Chicago and grew up in Texas; she studied at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Universitat de Barcelona, and Columbia University in New York where she earned a doctorate in Spanish literature. She teaches at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is currently working on an MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Brain; Child, Mothering, Bearings, New Beginnings, Murphy Square Quarterly, and forthcoming in Yes Poetry, Azahares, and Porridge. She is a single mother of five children.