O Tannenbaum, holding warm memories. Mother’s eggshell thin glass pink bell, father’s fragile airplane ornament, each almost one-hundred years old. Brother’s handmade Santa with sparse cotton beard, seventy-seven years old. Family long departed from earth, always here this beautiful season, illuminated on my tree.
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe, where today Lisa asks us to write a poem of exactly 44 words, sans title, that includes the word “warm” – or a form of the word.
Yes, our Christmas tree is up! And always hung first on the tree, are my three most precious and fragile ornaments: the pink bell was given to my mother’s parents when she was born; the airplane was given to my father when he was about five; and my brother made this Santa Claus when he was in first grade. He was nine years older than me and tragically died of a massive heart attack at age fifty-one – before either of my parents died. All three have been gone for many years. I always hold my breath when I open the box to see if these ornaments have made it to another year. Many other meaningful ornaments on our tree – I actually call it our memory tree. The Unicorn marionette was made by my daughter when she was eight, forty years ago. The orange giraffe with white bird on its head, to the right of the unicorn, was a wooden piece from the mobile that hung on my children’s crib: daughter now forty-eight and son now forty-six. There’s a traditional red ball ornament that has Lillian printed every-so-neatly on it, made by Mrs. Boomer, my first grade teacher. I’m now seventy-five. And so it goes. That’s a cream-colored garland I crocheted many many years ago. I love putting up my tree.
Brother’s cardboard Santa. Crayoned red suit and black boots, thinning cotton-puff beard and cuffs. His first grade art project crafted near eighty years ago.
You three sleep eternally warmed in earth’s loving arms. But each holiday season you live with me again, if only atop my Christmas tree.
Merril hosts Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. Her prompt for today: “write about any object – a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past.” The bell and airplane are 90+ years old.
2020 Christmas season begins with a gray, gloomy winter view out my front window. Remnants of light snowfall melt into a muddy mess. Turning from bleakness, I behold the color of Christmas spread throughout every room. Our tall green tree lit with colored bulbs, covered with sparkling ornaments collected for 60 years from travels and special life moments in my family. Red candles in brass candlesticks glow, the scent of cinnamon and peppermint awaken my senses. Alone, missing my family, I close my eyes and they are here.
Redbird in front tree Sings familiar melody Amaryllis blooms.
Sometimes, this time of year, we struggle to stay in the present. Memories intrude ever so gently or sometimes harshly, like a kick in the gut. We may gasp. We may wail. Loved ones lost. No. Wrong word. Loved ones gone. Gone from our sight, our touch, our living space.
Tears they say, are cleansing. A release. Well . . . perhaps. But must we be staid while others carol? Granules of being have disappeared, theirs and thus some of ours. So we reminisce. Sometimes ache as waves of emotion flow through us. Whisper aloud I love you, though the room is empty, save for us.
This Christmas season shall pass and we shall live on. Beyond the celebratory gifts, beyond that sweet gospel of an infant born one miraculous morn. Our treasured memories still intact, just shelved, perhaps a bit farther back. But still there. Always there. Always with us. Available for the taking out, the reexamining, at any time we wish.
Today, we shall step into the sun, feel its rays and warmth. We shall smile through gentle tears. Our tongue shall linger on our lips, taste sweet saltiness, a gift of remembrance. We shall walk another day but we shall always know one truth. The empty space beside us is not indicative of an empty heart.
I am about to celebrate Christmas with our home warmly decorated, and my spouse of fifty years by my side. I am however, cognizant of the many who have lost loved ones in the past year or two…whether to Covid, addiction, cancer, accident, any myriad of other reasons. Many people have difficulty during this season as they face the starkness of their loss. My poem is dedicated to all of you. May you all be blessed with gentle memories, serenity, and a new year that brings hope and health to all.
Reading what I have just written, I now believe . . . A snowflake smudges the next word. Where did that come from? I’m sitting at the kitchen table!
My eyes bug out in disbelief. A reindeer spotted with snow, stands behind me! I rub my eyes because surely this isn’t real? Then he invites me to climb on his back! Knowing mama and papa are soundly asleep, I scramble up. Out the window we fly, heading due north. My cold fingers clutch his collar, copper bells cold on my palms.
We land on a peanut-brittle paved lane with tall candy cane light poles and elaborate gingerbread houses! I see gummy bears chatting, sitting on gigantic lemon drops. Absolutely agog, I follow an elf to a sugar spun door. The door flings open and I know right then. I will always believe!
I’m hosting Prosery Monday at dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets. BUT, on Prosery Monday, we don’t write poetry!
Prosery is defined as a prompter providing one line from a poem, and writers inserting that specific line into a piece of prose, for example flash fiction. The punctuation and capitalization in the line may be changed, but the words and word order must remain intact. AND the prose can be no more than 144 words in length, sans title.
As host today, I’ve chosen the line “Reading what I have just written, I now believe” from Louise Gluck’s poem Afterward. So come join us! Insert this line, using these exact words in this order, into a piece of original prose!
Heartfelt music, morning to night December brings joy, no matter the site. Children scamper ‘cross fields in the Commons, screaming and laughing in childhood chase. Away in a Manger’s sweet refrain fills my head as I slowly saunter on. Evergreens tall and warm in the sun nod in sympathy at neighborly oaks, their skeletal branches shivering in cold. Oh Tannenbaum wafts through the wind.
Back now inside, I stare at our tree. Fragile ornaments peek from the top. Mother’s pink bell of thinnest glass father’s airplane, with broken tail, both from their childhood days. What were they like, way back then? I wonder as I wonder on this Silent Night. This season of softness with candlelight, flickers that shift both time and space cause memories to flood through my head.
Mom hanging tinsel, strand by strand and dad’s ruddy cheeks, smoking his pipe. December’s calendar squares orderly, rigidly, sit in their rows. Not for me. They dance in my head. Musical numbers turned into songs turned into people and memorable times. Cold and blustery weather predicted, warms my soul with harmonious skies. Oh Come All Ye Faithful to celebrate His birth. And yes dear Virginia, oh my yes, I still do truly believe.
Grace hosts dVerse and asks us to “incorporate music in our poem from the persepctive of a synasthete. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic involuntary experiences of a second one.” For me, the month of December brings Christmas carols to mind almost anywhere I go, which triggers family memories.
The “Yes, Virginia” statement at the end refers to “eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon [who] wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897.” The responding editorial reassured her. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Photo taken yesterday. These are the two ornaments mentioned in the poem. They were on my parents’ childhood trees and are extremely fragile. Each year, I hold my breath when I unwrap them from tissue paper and place them on the tree; and when I carefully take them down, wrap them and store them for another year.
Christmas is red, with or without snow. I am tone deaf but rosy carols come naturally. Heart blooms musically as cheeks blush rouged. Passed in ’98, mother’s memory crimson bright, tinsel lover carefully silvered red bauble balls. Red skirt paled beneath gauzy apron always smudged snowy confectioner sugar streaks and gravy tracks. Life’s red blood stopped as father’s bubble lights died. Mulled wine evokes spiced rubicund scent. Red hot ire most of the time creamsicles to softer pink. Passion flames blend to ever-companion, berry bright books and lover in my bed. Down comforter snuggled save cold red nose, which brings me back to Rudolph. Christmas is red.
Today Grace hosts dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She is teaching us about synesthesia, a “neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences of a second one.” Today, we are focusing on Grapheme Color Synesthesia, the most widely studied and common type of synesthesia.
For today’s prompt, we are to write about color from the perspective of a synesthete. Pick one color or several colors and create our own dictionary of color. What I chose to do was write in a stream-of-consciousness format, reacting to the color red.Photo is Christmas tree of my childhood. My mother loved tinsel.
Can you see . . .
homes alight with holiday cheer
stars and angels atop yule tide trees,
shoppers bustling, carolers singing
couples kissing ‘neath mistletoe,
gingerbread men snuggling in Christmas tins.
Can you see . . .
bell ringers seeking donations
people laughing, rushing by,
widowers staring out windows
dabbing eyes as snow fills air,
crumpled souls cowering on sewer grates.
Marking time . . .
advent wreaths lit each week
expectations for blessings dear.
Homeless shelters filled each night
bed fitful sleepers dreading dawn
when same day starts anew.
Photo: Christmas tree of my childhood. Amaya asks us to write a poem for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, using Apostrophe as a literary device. Addressing someone within the poem.