By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)
‘Twas the dark night of COVID, and all through the county
Not a traveler was budging, not one little amounty;
The masks were hung by the front door with care,
In hopes that the vaccine soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Zoom school danced in their heads;
The schools had all shuttered, the colleges too,
Leaving Main Street bartenders with little to do;
With no places to go to or friends to be seen,
I spent too long alone, just me and my screen.
On Netflix, on YouTube, on TikTok, on Disney,
The pranks and new dance moves no longer amuse me.
So my partner with laptop and I in my app
Had just settled our brains for a long FaceTime rap,
When out on the street there arose such a clatter,
I thought there were marchers for Black Lives that Matter.
Away to the window I flew like the flash
of a phone taking selfies of teens at a bash.
The moon on three feet of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
I knew the man out there, don’t think me absurd,
At first glance I mistook him for Senator Seward.
I rubbed my tired eyes, dug out my bifocals,
It did not appear to be one of the locals:
With a big bottle of bleach and a bright red face mask;
Is it true? Santa came? Or is that too much to ask?
He’s been keeping his list, but with all that’s gone wrong,
Is anyone on it, still getting along?
This year’s been so endless, we can scarcely remember
A darn thing that happened before mid-September!
More rapid than eagles our curses they came,
As newscasters shouted and called them by name:
First Wuhan, now Princess, New York and Seattle,
Now hydroxychloroquine and Tiger King prattle,
To the top of the headlines! to the front of the brawl!
There’s nowhere to run but we dash away all!
As leaves that before the wild hurricanes flew,
The fires out in Cali, and those sad kangaroos;
With Beirut and Tehran, no Olympics but Brexit,
We didn’t start the fire, but were stuck living in it!
George Floyd and the response to too many police shootings
Turned cities anarchic with some protesters looting
Our airplanes all grounded and nowhere to fly
When we met with an obstacle we can’t deny;
Morgues, ventilators, the stats all alarming,
full ER rooms and those we lost, numbers disarming.
Ten locals here died, but with many more sickened;
Each time I thought of it, my hearbeat, it quickened.
I drew in my head, as a turtle in shell,
When down the chimney came Santa like he fell down a well.
He was dressed all in kevlar, from his head to his foot,
With his PPE tarnished by ashes and soot;
His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry
And I laughed when I saw him, despite PTSD;
As he washed his hands well, stayed six feet from my head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
“How do you do it?” I asked, “and not get depressed,
Still circling the globe when we’re all so distressed?”
“There’s a light that keeps shining in darkest of nights,
We’ve got trump cards to play still,” he said, “it’s alright.”
And pulling his Good List out of his gown
He said, “Here’s what happened in old Cooperstown:
They cancelled the Hall of Fame’s Induction weekend,
But that doesn’t mean goodwill was totally weakened.
While the Trumpers and Dems lay in fitful repose,
All grateful their leaders had not yet come to blows,
From County Board streaming came a sure sign of hope,
When three Dems stopped screaming, declined to say ‘Nope’:
They crossed party lines, voted for a rival
Common ground felt so good it might lead to survival.”
And St. Nick said, “that’s the true Christmas spirit,
Embracing each other although we all fear it.”
We’re never going back, the past is in the past;
But our children, their wishes may come true at last:
The presents and presence of parents and friends,
A time to recover, heal wounds, make amends;
And laying his finger aside of his mask,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he passed;
He sprang to his sleigh, prepared it for flight
Then gave me a whistle ere he drove out of sight,
And I heard him exclaim “Go, be of good cheer!
For there’s just one week left of this terrible year!”