About the Feature

Photo by Christian Zeiser

i. Vesper

Leaving you to poke around the craft stalls
I orbit the solar system maze, wander
the icicle forest, the replica Houston skyline,
disco the Technicolor floor with toddlers
and carol around the fifty-foot tree. Before Jesus,
the one from Rio with open arms, I stop
to pray. At the blow-up temple pool
I kneel and float my votive-candle lotus
beneath a red dragon enflaming the night
above me. Another year, and another
year of marriage—I offer what I’ve made,
and what I’ve made burn. If good fortune
can make a little fabric and wire glow, then
come Jesus, Buddha, Amaterasu. Light me up.

ii. Novena

Neon lights, a mirror
star. Branches flocked
with spray can snow.
Still we love
though burning. Still
we cut paper snow-
flakes, line the window-
pane. My prayer
these Advent nights:
may our bodies fit
like branches. May
something sleeping
venture out of me
like deer at dusk.

iii. Requiem

Nine degrees in the ice sculpture exhibit
where birds hang mid-flight, bear cubs never
catch their mother, these woods spellbound
still. Later, strings of lights lilt and spindle
every tree beside the Gulf, and as plastic
reindeer reanimate frame by frame, I figure
Christmas really is whatever you make it.
But beloved it’s the aquarium penguins
that haunt me, how the big one stepped
on the little one—for sex, you guessed,
though you would not say the word—
and how, on our way out, one in an unlit tank
left the others sleeping and stared after us,
flapping against the glass as we walked away.

About the Author

T. Dallas Saylor lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a PhD student at Florida State University, and he holds an MFA from the University of Houston. His poetry
meditates on body, spirit, and landscape. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Christianity & Literature, Poetry Northwest, Salamander, and Prism International.