Few words are more closely aligned than “Christmas” and “Believe.”  Here, Niki Leopold, a poet of deepest generosity and honesty, shares her truth.  She shows us a moment of intimacy in the world of the inanimate that expands into hope, which can’t really happen without faith, which is where belief begins.

It’s a circle, isn’t it? Like the wreaths of the season and the years coming round again.  Happy mysteries of being alive to one and all.



The pine, grown to be cut,
tilts in its bucket,
untrimmed, drawing water
through the stub of trunk.
I’m surprised by its fragrance –
its silent breath – reminded
that breathing is steady luck,
a constant surprise,
and I too, stand between
floor and ceiling, cut
from belief in anything but
the presence of dark boughs
and the hope of something gleaming.


“Belief” appeared in The American Scholar:  Winter, 2002.  It is reprinted here with the poet’s permission.

Niki LeopoldNiki Leopold taught for many years in Maryland’s Poets-in-the-Schools Program. She has been widely published as a poet, notably in The American Scholar, Commonweal, and Poetry magazines. Her chapbook, Dark Feathers, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2004. Another, Small Pleasures, won the 2012 Blue Light Press contest. Holder of a Ph.D. in Art History as well as being a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars in Poetry, Ms. Leopold writes and illustrates children’s books. Adam’s Crayons is her new one from Galileo Press.

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