Tara's Shadow - A Tale of Christmas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
The poetic story of a little girl, orphaned by the great war and sickness of the 19th century. She finds comfort in the home of strangers but has a strange follower.

Submitted: November 14, 2011

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Submitted: November 14, 2011



Tara’s Shadow
A Tale of Christmas

On the corner she stood with the papers she sold,
She was young and alone and so very cold.

The new winter winds sent a chill down the street,
That made the girl shiver right down to her feet.

Folks would buy papers without speaking a word.
The street sounds and wind were all that she heard.

The clatter of hoof beats pulling their loads,
The wheels that rattled up cobblestone roads.

On this night, however, something would change,
Something inside of her felt very strange.

Across on the lamppost with no one to cast it,
Unnoticed by all of the people that past it,

Leaned a dark shadow in the shape on a man,
Alone in the streetlight, a stick in one hand.

The girl stared in wonder at what she was seeing,
“Who was this?” she thought, “What form of a being?”

As fast as she saw him, that fast was he gone;
She went back to her selling, time to move on.

An old man approached her and said with a smile,
“Come back to my house and warm up for a while.

I’ll make you hot cocoa and give you hot food.
The warmth of the fire will soon warm your mood.”

It sounded so tempting and comforting too,
But he reached out to touch her, that’s not what to do.

I must run away from this man, he is shady.
So run away run away run little lady.

She ran down the street, down an alley and more;
Finally collapsing at somebody’s door.

That’s all she remembered that cold winter night.
She awoke in a bed at the first morning light.

“Where am I?” she wondered as she looked around.
It was so calm and so peaceful without even a sound.

The sun was so warm, through the window it shined.
Bringing back much better days to her mind.

Back when she was younger and loved by her mother.
Before the Great War took her father and brother.

Several months after, her mother left too.
She was taken away by a case of the flu.

She lay there in wonder of how she arrived
Here in this bed, how was it contrived?
She peered out the window and down by the glen;
There was that shadow standing again.

Before she could think, she heard somebody knock.
“Are you awake dear, its past 8 o’clock?”

“How do you feel?” She opened the door.
With bed tray in hand she walked ‘cross the floor.

“You were near frozen, asleep on my stoop.
I think this will help you, I made you hot soup.”

The woman’s kind smile warmed her right through.
The soup, so delicious, warmed her up too.

“My name is Celeste,” the woman proclaimed.
“They call me Aunt Ceely. That’s my other name.

They tell me your Tara, you live on the street,
Selling your papers for something to eat.

I have something for you,” she said with a smile.
“Stay here in bed and hold this for a while.”

She reached in a sack and a doll was there found,
With pretty blond hair and a white satin gown.

“This was my daughter’s she loved it so much.
But since she the Lord took her it has stayed in the hutch.

It needs to be loved so I give it to you.
Treat her so kindly and she’ll love you too.”

“Thank you!” said Tara. I will give her good care;
I’ll tuck her in bed after brushing her hair.”

“You speak very nicely!” the woman did say,
“Were you raised around here or from far away?”

“I came from the country not too far from here.
I ran to the city because of my fear.

I was all alone, they would lock me away.
So I ran to the city and there I did stay.

I sleep in the basement under store.
They know that I’m there as they don’t lock the door.”

“There’s some clean clothes over there on the chest,
And a basin to wash in before you get dressed,

“Come down for luncheon,” Aunt Ceely invited.
“Whenever you’re ready”. The girl was excited.

Celeste left the room and went down the stair
Tarah washed up and brushed her long hair.

She put on a dress like she never once knew.
With a big white lace collar and velvet, dark blue.

Descending the stairwell she felt like a queen.
It turned when descending like none that she’d seen.

Upon reaching the bottom what did she see?
A beautiful two story Christmas tree.

Its branches adorned with crystals that glistened.
A music box played Deck the Halls as she listened.

She stood there unable to move as she gazed,
At the splendor before her, truly amazed.

A voice broke her trance, “Come in and eat!
There is someone in here I would like you to meet.”

In the very next room with the finest of fare,
set with white china and fine silverware,

A dining room table like none she had seen,
Covered in linen of red white and green.

It was long with ten chairs, each side had four.
The gold chandelier was hard to ignore.

At the head of the table stood a man in a vest.
“Please join us.” he said. “Take a seat, be our guest.”

The man had a moustache and watch chain of gold.
“How are you?” he asked, “Your Tara I’m told.

I’m so pleased to meet you, I’m Ben, the man said.
My wife is Celeste, she put you to bed.”

“I am pleased to meet you and thankful I am.”
“The pleasure is ours, may I cut you some ham?”

Ben said to Tara, “Tomorrow’s Christmas Day.
My wife and myself would like you to stay,

And celebrate with us the birth of our Lord.
The room that you slept in is yours free of board.”

“I would love too,” she answered, “you folks are so kind.
Are you sure that the man over there does not mind?”

“What man?” asked Aunt Ceely, “No one is there!”
“The silhouette man by the tree in the chair.”

“There is nobody here in the house besides us.
Tomorrow is different, tomorrow I fuss!”

That night in her bed Tara lay there awake,
Thinking of all that was done for her sake.

How lucky she was and how very full,
And how warm that it felt beneath this fine wool.

When there in the room at the foot of the bed,
With the cane in one hand and broad hat on his head,

Was that figure again in the dark of the night,
But this time the shade of the shadow was white.

For some unknown reason she felt no alarm,
She knew in her heart that the man meant no harm.

A deep voice spoke to her from inside her mind.
A calming soft voice that sounded so kind.

“I watched over you as you worked in the street,
I knew how you felt as the cold froze your feet.

I told you to run from that man with the smile,
And made you lay down by this door for a while.

I knew that the couple would give you great care.
I knew that their table was set with fine fare.

There once was a great war, a war like no other.
Uncles fought cousins and brother fought brother.

I was there in the war at the side of your brother;
I was there in the room when the Lord took your mother.

I must now return to where I belong.
Merry Christmas! My work’s done. I must move along.”

The shadow now sparkled like diamonds so bright.
And in a brief moment faded into the night.

There on the bed by the light of a candle,
A mans walking stick with a shiny gold handle.

She picked up the stick and inspected it well,
There looked like some writing, she could not quite tell.

She drew to the candle to get better lighting.
Engraved on the handle some stylish writing.

She looked even closer and what did unfold?
The name of her father engraved in the gold.

Was that an angel sent from above
To bring her a token of her fathers love?

Or was it her father she lost in the war,
Who came to direct her to this couples door?

Sarah lived in the home for the rest of her years
Growing up with much love, soon forgetting her tears.

Each Holiday season the table was set,
For all of the friends and kinfolk she met.

A lone chair remained never filled at the table
Reserved for the shadow whenever he’s able.

She knew he was watching from somewhere above,
She knew he was there, she could feel the love.

She knew there was that, which was truth like none other,
That God kept her Father, Mother and Brother.

The truth that’s conveyed in the text of this poem
There will come a day when we all will come home.

© Copyright 2018 G B Cunnane. All rights reserved.

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