The Month Before Christmas


It was late in November, and dad got a call
from a hiker near Teller had taken a fall.
He had outfitted many a party before,
and responding when needed was never a chore.

“It’s an hour to Teller then one more by boat
I took Boozer with me,” he had left us a note
for my mother and I had gone shopping in Nome
and he’d not make it  back by the time we’d get home.

The next morning the troopers were summoned once more
for no help had arrived on that desolate shore.
When the search and rescue had responded in force
they had searched for the boat and my father, of course.

But the searching proved futile though traces were found
indicating that somehow the boat had gone down.
A survival suit floating unused simply meant
that my father’d not planned then to go where he went.
The men hunted for days- it was almost a week,
then the weather conditions became much too bleak.

Both my mother and I were consumed by our grief;
that our anchor was gone was beyond our belief.
All the neighbors brought food by and offered their prayers
but my mom would just thank them with blank distant stares.

Then she finally collapsed, at the end of her rope;
her religion had failed her, she’d run out of hope.
I tried to be supportive and brave through it all
then I’d walk by the Boozer’s food bowl and I’d bawl.
And though Christmas was coming we’d set up no tree
to suggest something merry would be travesty.

When the storms had all passed and the winds had suspended
we borrowed boats belonging to men he’d befriended
Those men wanted to know that at least they could try
but to say they held hope would be speaking a lie.

The sun’s rays so golden when we set out that morn,
but as twilight was falling most all were forlorn.
We had sailed out from Teller and cruised to the coast
and we searched likely places from least to the most.

Twas the trip driving home that impacted my heart
It was useless and dumb, why the hell did I start.
It was twenty-nine miles and a good hour’s more drive
to a wilderness area where he couldn’t survive.
I was young and impetuous, foolish as well
but if those men thought that the case one couldn’t tell.

Twas the day before Christmas, the morning was bright
I awoke with a vision I’d seen in the night-
without waking my mom I called my dad’s best friend
“It is early I know, can we try it again?”

I made myself a lunch and left mother a note,
then under way again- a truck towing the boat.
Appointees to another task most likely sad
set about the incompleted search for my dad.

I suggested that we this time bear to the west,
I had no explanation, don’t know why- just guessed.
The landfall we were aiming at shrouded by fog
that cleared as we drew closer- and I saw my dog!
Unexpected tears fell and yet I did not care.
for then Boozer retreated leading us somewhere.

In a snow cave, injured, immobile, weak and thin
was my dad whom I had thought I’d not see again.
He’d survived with shared rabbit served raw and unspiced.
but said he’d never tasted any thing so nice.

And while he doesn’t know how he got to the shore
he suspects he owes Boozer that and much, much more.
“Twas the night before Christmas and one family knew
if you care for your dog he might take care of you.”

© Lawrence R. Eberhart, 2013

Photo byy FunkyJ (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons