. Nativity Scene The hour draws near to midnight, and a priest Completes his preparations for the feast, Assisting at last practice with the choir, Inspecting layout in a makeshift stable, Checking on the altar boys’ attire, And bringing out the Babe his arms will cradle. “This Child comes here to supernaturalize Men of good will beyond mere sin’s remission, And gives me most: I bear His godly guise And exercise His high maternal mission. His people come here starving to be fed And formed by me in likeness to their Head. “Beforehand I hear many a confession, Say vesting prayers, then candlelit procession Leads me to lay the Infant in the crib. How warm these eyes that mystically perfect My spirit’s joy, and make my words equip Those who consume the Body I confect.” “It’s late, and He leaves gifts for every soul. My sermon was perhaps too glib; He’s cold. Here, let me wrap you in a silken stole. Still chilly? A scarf feels warmer, fold on fold. Sleep sweet and snug tonight; I’ll leave it on Until the shepherds come for Mass at dawn.” . “Confect the Sacrament” is the precise term for what a priest does at Mass in consecrating bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ. . . Evergreen Interlude To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice. ―Thomas Hardy The spruces rustle rustically, The noble fir trees birr, The pines repine theatrically As boreal blasts recur. The cypress creaks in threnody And cedar needles shush; Frost cracks grand redwood rhapsody, And whiffles husky slush. The cold magnolia hesitates To moan, when aches a bough; The mossy live oak susurrates Wild wind in full-blown sough. The holly, sharp leaves glistening, Scratches at the snow; The lively ivy, listening, Whistles with mistletoe. Blue juniper blurts jealously, Muting the olive’s coo, While arborvitae zealously Breathes counterwafts to yew. . . Margaret Coats lives in California. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others.