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Hoarfrost Trees: photos, poem, and nonfiction by Michael Shoemaker

Hoarfrost Trees, photo by Michael Shoemaker

January Leaden Skies

Stopping to rest near frozen trees

huffing deep, visible breath

through winter’s

web of white

the blood pulsing

through my sore calves

on this senseless, sunless

morning sojourn.

I realize for one quaking, truthful moment

that sours my stomach,

she’s gone

it will not change

there’s no going back.

Steaming tears drop

to my hiking boots.

Through soft fur

my hand fumbles for faith

around the corners

of my dog’s pointy ears,

feeling for a future that

will be okay, somehow okay.

I fear the growing hoarfrost in my heart.

Help me, oh, please help me, dear Lord!

His aid comes with the gentleness and stillness

of snowflakes. He is my Rescue and Refuge. Amen.


Christmas Blue

Growing up, December 1st was always the same. My dad would come home from work as an overalls supply delivery driver, walk into the study, and turn on the blue light in the blue room of our house. It would remain on until December 31st. Hardly anyone discussed energy conservation in those days.

My brothers and I had been told that, for our family, the blue light represented the Star of Bethlehem that brought wise men from the East. This symbol carried even greater meaning because the blue room is where my family gathered for Scripture study.

When I say “the blue room,” that was the only thing it could be called. The walls, carpet, ceiling, the felt-covered chair were all royal blue. I wondered if my parents selected royal blue because they knew Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

As a 7-year-old child, I was an early riser. There was always something about a new day and what seemed all of its endless wonderful possibilities that I was the first one in the house to get up—around 4:30 a.m. I wasn’t anxious, just excited like before you open Christmas presents. It seemed logical not to miss out on anything a new day had to offer.

On one such morning, I arose quietly trying not to wake my parents or my two older brothers. In flannel pajamas and bare feet, I inched my way around my oldest brother’s

bed and could still hear the deep, easy breathing of my other brother on the top bunk. Nightlights guided my way to the blue room like lampposts in the park.

I sank deep and low into the chair, enjoying the peacefulness of a place where the youngest in the family rarely got to sit during the day. As I did so, a panorama was opened to my mind. I do not know if I was awake or in a dream, but I know it was not my imagination. My brothers and neighborhood playmates who played make-believe games could easily attest that someone with such a small imagination as I made trying to play make-believe tedious and boring.

The panorama opened to Judaean fields. For some reason, I had arrived late and missed

the initial message of the angel, but did see the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14 KJV). Such glowing and abiding radiance of love emanated from this host that I could not speak, only feel.

Next, I followed the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem. How immediate was their obedience to the angel! There was earnestness in their faces as they urgently sought to reach the Babe of Bethlehem. Then, a release of relief, elation, and joy to see for themselves the Hope of Salvation. I was not stone-hearted. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks as I saw their reverence and absolute confidence that they had found Him.

I saw wise men pressing forward from the East. They came over a rise and could look down on the city of David. The trusty star had led them. They were weary from countless miles, but excited with each new step. Sensing they were close to their long goal, they pressed on to the house where the Infant dwelt. The Boy they visited meant more to world change than anyone else who ever lived.

I don’t recall why, but I was shaken out from this experience. I would rather have stayed

and been a shepherd or wise man, transformed forever, and would have lived in peace

and brotherhood. For more than forty years from that moment I have followed Mary’s wise example and “kept all these things, and pondered them in her [my] heart” (Luke 2:19 KVJ). I am sure Mary with her strength of character found more in her pondering than I ever will. However, what remains with me is that what I was taught by my parents about the Nativity really did happen and matters. It is all real.


Twilight Lodge, photo by Michael Shoemaker

Leaf in the Grass, photo by Michael Shoemaker

Raining Light through Leaves,

photo by Michael Shoemaker


Michael Shoemaker is a poet, writer, and photographer. His poems have appeared in Ancient Paths Literary Journal, Front Porch Review, Utah Life Magazine, and elsewhere. His first book, Rocky Mountain Reflections,

has just been published by Poet’s Choice. This photography/poetry collection can be purchased (for 25 U.S. dollars) at: Rocky Mountain Reflections – Poets Choice Michael lives in Magna, Utah, with his wife and son where he enjoys looking out on the Great Salt Lake every day.

(December 2023 issue)

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Dec 18, 2023

I like all of it! And especially the photos!

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