"When Santa Claus Dreams"

An Ode to Volunteers

Santa Claus envies me,
He dreams of riding in my van.
All he drives is a sleigh,
I volunteer for a Food Pantry!

Santa sneaks into houses.
I am invited into grocery stores.

He crawls down the chimney.
I march in at the loading dock.

Santa leaves behind a few toys.
I wheel out carts of life-giving food.

I carefully steer treasure down a long ramp
And park by my van.

I carefully transfer each item:
First, boxes of fruits and vegetables,
Next, cases of salad, hummus and pasta,
Then sausage and luncheon meats.
I chauffeur boxes of bread,
Then I will pursue pumpkins,
And embrace bouquets of flowers.

Already I can see neighbors walking through our front door:
As they come in, some will be smiling,
Some will stare at the floor, too nervous to look up,
Some will look wooden,
Some will look wounded.

Each will receive a warm hello.
They will hear questions with respect.
They will choose fruits and vegetables,
Salad, meat, bread, a pumpkin,
And flowers.

They will walk out with more than they can carry.
Smiling, they will return home
On a bus or in a car.

I feel bad for Santa Claus,
His toys run out of batteries
Or break or become boring.

The treasure in my van evicts fear,
And renews hope.