Taking Down the Tree

“Give me some light!” cries Hamlet’s

uncle midway through the murder

of Gonzago. “Light! Light!” cry scattering

courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,

it’s dark at four, and even the moon

shines with only half a heart.

 

The ornaments go down into the box:

the silver spaniel, My Darling

on its collar, from Mother’s childhood

in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack

my brother and I fought over,

pulling limb from limb. Mother

drew it together again with thread

while I watched, feeling depraved

at the age of ten.

 

With something more than caution

I handle them, and the lights, with their

tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along

from house to house, their pasteboard

toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.

Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

 

By suppertime all that remains is the scent

of balsam fir. If it’s darkness

we’re having, let it be extravagant.

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