by Jeffrey Murrell


It was Christmas Eve of a modern date.
The early evening sky was dark,
As is normal in a northern place.
But the air was comfortably warm
As snow tumbled down from out of space
To the ground where a translucent sheet formed,
Shrouding all things with a delicate coat
In the white of Christmas cheer and hope.

This was to be a time of happiness,
A time which should be remembered by most
As a time of utter fulfillment.
Their faces were virtually unknown
To each other, retired among themselves,
Blurry and vague, as if they were ghosts,
Gathered together after working alone
For the sake of others, without a home.

They came to this luxurious hotel
Donated to them for their endeavors;
Their lifetimes spent giving of themselves.
And now they were receiving from others
Food and fine drink and a place to dwell;
The people's reward to these good brothers,
So here they could spend the rest of their lives
And withdraw from the outer world's strife.

Gifts were exchanged and rooms had been assigned;
Roommates were paired--two new friends were then made,
As all the others were bidding goodnight,
They went to see their room, up the stairway
Of this peaceful old brick structure so high.
The apartments were large and double spaced,
Each with his own room, kitchen and bath.
They threw down their suitcases to unpack.

One of these brothers was quickly done,
So he stepped out to tour the snug building,
Feeling so cozy in that great mansion
As he looked out at all the stars twinkling.
What a peaceful, grand sight to gaze upon!
Then he caught sight of a small car plowing
Its way through the snow around the front drive.
It was small and dented and painted white.

Then, all of a sudden, the sight turned strange.
The next thing he knew, that small car had wrecked!
Skid marks in the snow reflected the strain
Of the impact which had separated
The twisted front from the smashed up rear flank.
Inside, bodies were torn and dismembered!
And the snow was splattered with steaming blood!
How could it happen to their brotherhood?