Twas The Night Before Chitlásha
by Bob Alberti
©1995 Bob Alberti, Jr. with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, M. A. R. Barker, Santa Claus, and most of Western Civilization.
Twas the Night before Chitlásha and all through the clan
Not a person was stirring, neither Pé Chói nor Man.
The slaves were all locked in their stables with care
For I didn’t wish any more trouble down there.
The children were nestled all snug on their mats,
With nightmares of Ssúganar tormenting the brats.
And I hung the méshqu “Don’t disturb, I relax”,
While my wives settled down for a night on their backs.
When out in the courtyard there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Leaping over Third Wife, cross the room did I dash
Threw open the shutters and saw a great flash.
The moons on the breasts of the demon Quyó
Gave a red-and-green luster to her statue below,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a shining blue oval that filled me with fear.
Then out leapt a creature with a nose glowing red
And I feared in a moment I soon would be dead.
More rapid than Hláka these monsters they came
As one ’round the back called out their true names;
“Now DASHER! now DANCER, now PRANCER and VIXEN!
On COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves which before a wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky
So up to the rooftop the first creature flew
With eight more behind it, and a palanquin too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each demon-hoof.
As I entered the room and was looking around
Down the chimney a humanoid came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
From the brick fireplace that appeared at his back
He withdrew an enormous red tarpaulin sack
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a berry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And my wives and I feared there was nowhere to go.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke seemed to come from burning a leaf.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
Which shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, like a demonic peasant,
And the smile I gave him was carefully pleasant.
But the wink of his eye and the twist of his head
Seemed like a spell-gesture, and filled me with dread.
He spoke not a word for the spell he would work
And had just turned around when he stopped with a jerk.
A finger was laid to one side of his nose
When he started to glow a bright shade of rose.
Third Wife’s Ruby Eye also captured the sleigh
You can see them in Bey Su where they’re on display.
A priest closed the nexus with a ritual spell
But I left the brick fireplace. Why not? It works well.
I rewarded Third Wife with thesun and gold
And named her First Wife though just sixteen years old.
Therefore she exclaimed during our evening rites
“HAPPY CHITLÁSHA TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!”