Morning Jog on Boxing Day


I linger stretching as they drown the elf

who grins at torture in his Christmas suit.

Their other victims, all dolls, drench the shelf

they’ve made out of a chestnut stump where boots

sucked off by mud lie half-submerged in muck.

Barefoot, soaked, the younger sister stands to roll

baggy pajama bottoms up. She tucks

her shirt and creeps, graceless as a foal

back down beside the creek to fan her hair

inside the ice-shard swirl. My chuckle breaks

the spell—no wave or soft hello can glue

their morning whole again. Both girls glare

before their sprinting feet stamp little lakes.

The cattle fence crackles at beads of dew.

Adam Tavel won the 2017 Richard Wilbur Book Award for Catafalque (University of Evansville Press, 2018). He is also the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), which won the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry. You can find him online at