Poetry by Donal Mahoney: “Feliz Navidad”


Longtime Reiter’s Block reader Donal Mahoney returns with this simple but profound poem about the kind of person we often overlook in our consumerist Christmas frenzy. It made me think of Pope Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, who is re-emphasizing the church’s commitment to economic justice.

Feliz Navidad

Pedro swings a mop all night
on the 30th floor of Castle Towers
just off Michigan Avenue
not far from the foaming Lake.
The floor is his, all his,
to swab and wax till dawn.

The sun comes up and Pedro’s
on the subway snoring,
roaring home to a plate
of huevos rancheros,
six eggs swimming
in a lake of salsa verde,
hot tortillas stacked
beside them.

After breakfast,
Pedro writes a poem
for Esperanza,
the wife who waits
in Nuevo Leon.
He mails the poem
that night, going back
to his bucket and mop.

Pedro’s proud
of three small sons,
soccer stars
in the making.
On Christmas Eve
the boys wait up
in Nuevo Leon
and peek out the window.
Papa’s coming home
for Christmas!

Pedro arrives at midnight
on a neighbor’s donkey,
laughing beneath
a giant sombrero.
He has a red serape
over his shoulder,
and he’s juggling
sacks of gifts.

When the donkey stops,
the boys dash out and clap
and dance in circles.
Esperanza stands
in the doorway
and sings
Feliz Navidad.

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