Two Poems by Kenneth Gurney

Straw & Swaddling

I named my two mice
Joseph and Mary
and planned to use them
as live characters
in my holiday nativity creche.

From summer to winter
there were many practice nativities
and I realized
that the baby Jesus
would have several brothers
and sisters—

the idea of feeding
the brothers and sisters
to William’s pet snake
seemed too horrible
to consider
just to honor
the traditional count
of one savior
being born
under a bright star.

Attended Church That Day

My mother was very shy
and on the day I was born
she did not really want to meet me.

And because she was poor—
extremely poor in fact—
she considered a capitalist transaction
with a vetted stranger
of an exchange of cash
for my squalling self.

Being an infant of incredibly few hours
I did not know enough
to be offended or hurt
by what almost happened
and so I loved my mother as if
the thought never crossed her mind.

It was not a deathbed confession
that caused me to learn of this near adoption,
but a picture postcard
of Old Faithful geysering
into the bluest of Yellowstone skies
with a note written in her tight script
from the turquoise pen she preferred
that I received while away at College
at age nineteen.

My mother was very shy.
So shy in fact
she never visited Yellowstone
or saw Old Faithful,
but ordered the postcards
from a mail-order catalogue.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. He edits the anthology Adobe Walls, which contains the poetry of New Mexico. His latest book is This is not Black & White. To learn more visit his website.