The Mysterious
Blue Light

by John and David Paxman


As children, we liked our red-carpeted front rooms best
when the Christmas tree tossed the air
with the rich smell of piñon,
when the switch to the curly golden
chandelier was turned to off,
when, if you squinted your eyes,
the tree lights glowed through the

branches like a rainbow at night,
when the unison noise from the Tabernacle Choir throng,
or the deepest meaning of the nine carols
when readings from King’s College Chapel
on Christmas Eve’s afternoon,

wound their way through the house, and
when the dark rust-colored water in Mom’s
cinnamon and cloves spice pot slowly

mulled its own thoughts on the

kitchen stove and then misted them

all the way to the soda fountain in the attic.
It was then that the blue light wrapped its softest tones
around the tinsel threads of a thousand icicles

and reached for the Bethlehem star atop

the green tree in the corner of the room.
As children, we learned to take in as much of the blue light
as we could, rocking for hours,

sometimes it seemed through the night,

curled up in the white chair that looked directly

into the deep of winter that shimmered there,

the tree cast with a slow blue and silver.
We are sure we nurtured a child’s hope that the hue of the
blue light would somehow transform us, too.
Other times of the year, those rooms could have their own meaning,
but not like when the blue light shone there

with its softest warmth all day and all night

for more than the twelve days of Christmas.


As children, the blue light just appeared from
one day to the next each year about the time

of the candles, words and songs of Advent.
Now, at this age, we know that someone had to figure out
where it would go, get the wire, get the light,

get the mount, get the circle of blue glass,

cobble it all together like an Offret gumption trap,

get the stepladder, and, with a set of the most curious tools,

set the mount to the wall, just a little above the

cracked white molding that framed the sliding doors

between the red shag of the two front rooms.
It hugged there all season as if by magic. We were blue-light blessed.

As children, other things, too, it seemed, sprung out
of the soothing shadows of that blue light.
If Christmas trees can evoke Christmas,
then let us have six more!!
One for each child’s bedroom, and one,
upside down, like a Taos chandelier,

just above where the front staircase twists

on itself, a counterpoint to the sharpness

of the yellow dimpled glass and

the rumpled look of the curtains hung to the

side of the thirteen-foot circle-head window.
The blue light, we are now sure, brought out our own Santa,
dressed Mexican, lisping Spanish and laughing,

with a five-foot dark blue and silver sombrero,

and long-john underwear, dyed red,

one side of the trap door unbuttoned,

coming half a flap when he chuckled

in the feigned foreign tongue.
He used loud Js for the Spanish silent Hs in his greeting to us,
just so we could understand him!! Jo Jo Jo!!

John & David:

As adults, now at a distance, we know that the blue light
does not shine where and when

everyone is for themselves.
Like the tall hundred-year pine that blew down in
our front yard, the blue light will not stand or shine

where there is too much show, not enough root.
Last year our father took a blue light with him to Trinidad,
to flood the sun-whitened wall of the orchid garden,

beneath the oval windows on the Lee Poy house

in the sharp green northern hills,

a long way and a long time from the children in Utah.
It is now our turn to put up the blue light, wherever we are.

~ ~ December 2007

The Paxmans & BYH