The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 5
Oct 1993

It Came From the North Pole (A Visit to the Museum II)

by Sally Shelton

'Twas the Night before Christmas (we've said this before)
And sharp polar blasts howled and hissed 'round the door.
Not a creature was stirring (it would be unwise:
The last one that did wound up stuffed, with glass eyes).
The curators' stockings were nailed to the shelf
In hopes of sweet funds from the Federal elf.
I was writing reports and desired no distraction:
I'd done some great Santa Claus preemptive action.
There were big reindeer-sized sticky traps on the eaves
(Their droppings have always been one of my peeves).
And razor-edged ribbon wire tied in a bow
All over the windows where Santa might go.
I saw a dark profile flash by on the pane--
Either Hitchcock still walks, or the Saint's back again!
I was feeding the fire with some water-logged wood
When I heard a huge thump in the lab's old fume hood.
If it acts as a chimney, it seems, he gets through--
St. Nick was head-down and half-stuck in the flue.
By the time I uncorked him, the damage was done:
He'd breathed all the solvents I had, one by one.
He pitched and he yawed as he stood there, and then
He lumbered back over to sniff them again.
I kept him from lighting his pipe in the place--
If I hadn't, you'd get all my poems from space.
Santa was out of it, there was no doubt,
And I had no prospect of getting him out.
I watched him go through the collections to play
While wondering bleakly what OSHA would say.
He juggled the fossils, he rattled the bones,
He fried the computer and tied up the phones.
He tried to smoke all our dried plants 'til I stopped him;
He didn't try rhino horn (THAT would have dropped him!)
He drank off a quart jar of fishes in eth.,
And spent the next hour or so looking like death.
Then Santa, all rosy and feeling no pain,
Lept to the window and suffered a sprain.
I was able to wheel him to our loading dock
Where the reindeer were smoking and watching the clock.
I bundled him in and they sprang to the sky,
And he said not a word, no, not even "Goodbye."
When I returned, after bolting the door,
What should I see but his bag on the floor.
It was wriggling and lurching and raising a fuss--
I carefully lifted out one platypus.
Ol' Santa was thinking of me (my eyes swim),
And next year I'll leave better goodies for him.
The duckbill had gauges, a conservator's dream,
The finest environmental monotreme.

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