Friday, December 16, 2011


At night I sit by the holiday tree with a warm cup,
remove my glasses for the effect. Nearsighted,
each light simmers, distorted as if through tears.

From this vantage the packages below are simply
colors, the tinsel glass, candy canes and ornaments
merely shapes with the secret desire to become.

Begin at the sturdiest of branches: Grandmother
(long since passed) crafted the large Styrofoam balls
wrapped in golden ribbon, studded through with

green and silver foil sequins. Just above, the wooden
cutouts of sleighs, rocking horses, and stockings,
tenderly painted with my sister (now gone, too).

Higher now, the pendants of our journey, the
absurd tin boat from Nags Head, the horses from
Kentucky, our weekends in Door County, your

childhood treasures and the porcelain frames of
our girls as infants; each branch an ascendant
stanza of our lives. A map begins to form of our

travels and our histories, all fashioned by tight
twine. These rough threads braid us in this frail
journey. Around it all the parochial rosary of a

cranberry garland strung through by silver thread,
all this life bound sacred then, true. This tree of love
and dreams and memories that guide us, green as

the breath of spring, each blossom held in place
by a simple white angel perched atop, her grace the
quiet gravity that holds everything named Peace.

--c. 2011, by Martin A. Bartels (working draft)

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