M. A. Schaffner

Cratchit’s Christmas

He recycled by printing directives
on the backs of others, since superseded,
as if anyone could tell which side to read.
Call it confidence misplaced or madness
not of an everyday kind. He’s gone now,
dead or retired or both, or reassigned,
taking his obsolescent procedures along
to spare at least one tree, such as the one
scrawny and leafless outside my window
this season as the sky darkens early
and my colleagues and I gather to sip
insipid punch spiked surreptitiously,
holding our fragile memories as that tree
clings to a pair of pale blue shopping bags
shredded past use, except for reminding
that they once swelled with wants and needs as do
all of us still, we hope, while the wind plays
with our coats as we hurry to our homes.

M.A. Schaffner retired in January 2010 after 32 years as a federal civil servant, beginning as a clerk-typist in the Secret Service and ending in a management role of ambiguous authority within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, with stops along the way in Engraving and Printing, Public Debt, Navy, and GSA. His most recent publications include poems in The Hollins Critic, Magma, Decanto, The Monarch Review, and Prime Number. Other work includes the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels, the novel War Boys, and the memoir Good-Bye To All This, which he e-mailed to all his colleagues on his last day of service. To read more by this author: M.A. Schaffner: Fall 2004 M.A. Schaffner: Whitman Issue M.A. Schaffner: Wartime Issue M.A. Schaffner on Ambrose Bierce: Forebears Issue M.A. Schaffner: Museum Issue