by Annie Dillard

Let me mention
one or two things about Christmas.
Of course, you’ve all heard
that the animals talk
at midnight:
a particular elk, for instance,
kneeling at night to drink,
leaning tall to pull leaves
with his soft lips,
says, alleluia.

That the soil and freshwater lakes
also rejoice,
as do products
such as sweaters
(nor are plastics excluded
from grace),
is less well known.

Further:
the reason
for some silly-looking fishes,
for the bizarre mating
of certain adult insects
or the sprouting, say,
in a snow tire
of a Rocky Mountain grass,
is that the universal
loves the particular,
that freedom loves to live
and live fleshed full,
intricate, and in detail.

God empties himself
into the earth like a cloud.
God takes the substance, contours
of a man, and keeps them,
dying, rising, walking
and still walking
wherever there is motion.

At night in the ocean
the sponges are secretly building.
Once, on the Mussel-shell,
I regenerated an arm!
Shake hands. When I stand
the blood runs up.

On what bright wind
did God walk down?
Swaying under the snow,
reeling minutely,
revels the star-moss,
pleased.

See also at Oblations this index to Christmas readings.