A White Picket Fence

A White Picket Fence

The myth of a white picket fence has
always held some attraction for me.
Its looks ordered, cozy, inviting
despite its role of protector
of what looms on the other side.
I’ve never seen a lock
on a gate
of a white picket fence.
The white picket fence does for the house
what a fine frame does for the painting
it draws you in
someone in there cares
someone you can trust
who knows the value
of a good rocker
with wide arms and high back
who craves the rich creamy
taste of a peanut butter sandwich.
Isn’t that a blackberry cobbler on the window sill?
So you know stashed in the ice box
is a half eaten quart of genuine
french vanilla ice-cream.
Yes whoever lives there understands
about the time of you and me
spread-eagled on a sunny grassy knoll
when the wind blew away time
leaving only peace and grace.

Is there a lovelier word than grace?
Or a lovelier sight
than a Christmas tree with lights?
It has taken me too long
to learn about grace
though I’ve been in its company for years
but I always knew about Christmas tree lights.
I would lie on the couch
in the dark
but for the many colored lights
and a pocketful of hope
squint my eyes
making a kaleidoscope of dancing lights.
There was no time
only the tree, the lights and me.
I was in their grace
at the altar snug and warm and safe
happy as a picket fence.

I have foolishly spent an inordinate
amount of time searching
for my white picket fence.
Perhaps that is why
the pages of Unique Homes
held such allure drawing my eyes to
the white fences of Lexington, Kentucky
the white barns and houses on
the rolling hill farms of Charlottesville, Va.
the white fogged ridges of Ashville, N.C.
the white birches of Vermont
the white waves and sand of Big Sur
the white clouds of a San Francisco penthouse
the great white way of New York
but still no white picket fence.

It is Christmas time again.
The beloved tree is adorned.
I lie on the couch
watch the lights
music is in the air
and though time is harder to hold still
I believe that Santa is near
and he knows my name.
I am snug and warm and safe
in a manger under my tree of lights
with a white picket fence around me.

I have always clung to my Christmas tree
as a child to its mother hoping
despite my limitations and frustrations
I belonged and someday I would find
my white picket fence.
Well I did find it
when I realized that grace wasn’t just
the name of my next-door neighbor
when I accepted grace
as the love and favor of my wife and children
and of my friends.
So if God is everywhere
then God is in each of you
and each of you
is a light on my Christmas tree
and each of you
is a stake
in my white picket fence.

Webmaster’s Note: “A White Picket Fence” appears in Happenstance, a poetry collection by David Selby.

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