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The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/The Skeleton in the Cupboard

THE SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD

Just this one day in all the year
Let all be one. let all be dear;
Wife, husband, child in fond embrace,
And thrust the phantom from its place.
No bitter words, no frowning brow,
Disturb the Christmas festal, now
The skeleton's behind the door.

Nor let the child, with looks askance,
Find out its sad inheritance
From souls that held no happiness
Of home, where love is seldom guest;
But in his coming years retain
This one sweet night that had no pain;
The skeleton's behind the door.

In vain you raise the wassail bowl,
And pledge your passion, soul to soul
You hear the sweet bells ring in rhyme.
You wreathe the room for Christmas-time
In vain. The solemn silence falls,
The death-watch ticks within the walls;
The skeleton taps on the door.

Then let him back into his place,
Let us sit out the old disgrace;
Nor seek the phantom now to lay
That haunted us through every day;
For plainer is the ghost; useless
Is this pretence of happiness;
The skeleton taps on the door.