image from our family album.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned
in life--it goes on.”--Robert Frost.
As a kid, I often wondered
why the holidays seemed
to my grandparents--
but now with grandchild #7 in the oven,
clarity regarding such confliction
descends like acid rain that peels
epidermal layers, revealing truths that come
with candy cane daggers & cranberry barbs,
with tattered bibles & sugary shrouds,
with faded photographs & garlic breath,
with dripping tinsel & torn wrapping paper,
wearing popcorn necklaces & gumball gems.
It has everything to do with the moaning string
of loved ones,
of tolerated ones
of forgotten & disliked ones; yes,
ALL passed on, BUT
their faces, spirits, smiles, grimaces, hearts
& idiosyncrasies emerge around
our family table, as those of us
still breathing gather in celebration & kinship.
As grandparents we sit now
at the head of the table, venerated, respected & loved,
happily assuming the inherited roles
of patriarch & matriarch wearing a laurel of lilies,
holding a dove’s feather in one hand
& a fancy silver fork in the other.
Those lost to us find their way home during the festivities--my still young
mother, dead at 39 in ’68, my three boorish stepfathers, a cruel trinity,
--perhaps even my biological father, whom I never met or knew, my lovely
grandparents, on my mother’s side, my wife’s parents, & too many friends,
acquaintances, bad bosses, drunken cronies, dearest comrades, cousins,
uncles, aunts, nieces & nephews--a swarm of specters on queue, increasing
in numbers on line with each year.
My dear mother-in-law was last to pass, at 90, last July. We always
flew to Texas each year to celebrate Christmas with her, more than
two decades of sweet tradition. Her empty chair, empty plate & absent
cheer will be sorely missed. My wife is already weeping when she
thinks I don’t notice, the heartaches from Lucille’s passing still being
fresh wounds all around.
are upon us, as the deadsit there behind us.
Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub Poetics