The Night Before the Pageant

Costumes draped over chairs: white tunics
for angels, brown or striped for prophets,
peasants, shepherds. Feathers and fake fur
to dress creation’s extravagant parade.
Blue robe and veil for Mary.
Children have come, said their lines,
sung their songs, and gone home.
In the wake of their leaving, the helpers
put props in order, turn out lights. The room
settles into stillness that echoes not yet,
almost, not long. Ready for the story
whose telling always ends too soon.
And if, this time, the sweetness
of costumed sheep, the memorized “O Come”
won’t satisfy, it’s only that the children
play their roles too well. Their final “Gloria”
pulls aside a curtain, reveals a heaven
heard around the edge of things, a glory
we long for without knowing.
Joanne Epp is a poet who serves as sub-organist at St. Margaret’s Anglican in Winnipeg. Her first book of poems, Eigenheim, was published in 2015, and she is currently at work on her second.

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