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Let It Begin With Me
by Mary Jo Balistreri
The air hummed with promise—unexpected
in those troubled times. Hot cider spiced
its way through the crowded room
and tins of homemade cookies sparkled
in the hands of children.
The scent of cut pine met
the draft of ozoned cold each time
the basement door swung open
into the small candlelit church.
Toward the end of Mass, the young priest asked
for a volunteer to lead us in a last song.
No one moved. Weary of such efforts,
our pockets and faith on empty.
Finally, a boy of ten walked to the altar
and began singing Let there be peace on earth…
His high-pitched voice, unsteady at first, grew
into the strength of the music while we grew
One by one we stood, reaching out to strangers,
and when the last note ended, we remained still.
Forty years later, I watch white flakes spark
the cobalt sky and the memory of that long ago
song flickers and catches fire. Looking out into the glow
of stars, the pillowed accumulation,
I hear the song weave through the white
screen of night, the voice of the child,
and despite the weight of the snow-heavy world,
I remember—let it begin with me.