The poem is about the narrator/poet decorating a birch tree in his yard for Christmas. And, as with most of his poems, Steele uses this act of doing something very regular and normal to explore what this time of year means to all of us. With, I might add, an acute sympathy that never degenerates into sentimentality or nostalgia (which happens so often with poems about Christmas, don’t you think?) And, while there are Biblical images or allusions here, it is not a religious poem, as you will soon see.
There are three intertwined and connected stories here - school-kids messaging on Facebook, taking a joke too far and pulling their respective parents in to deal with the consequences; a couple who recently lost a child and is subjected to identity theft and financial fraud through hacking; a minor-age porn-site sex worker and the ambitious TV reporter who interviews him and then tries to help him to get to a better life, rather clumsily.
Today's poem is about how en masse, senseless and destructive killing tears things apart irreparably and creates deep turmoil and unrest. Yet, with kindness, patience and acceptance, we