White Christmas

They told me to dream of a White Christmas.
The one that catches in your lungs and just won’t let go.
The one that renders the world into soft focus,
like the muted stillness that covers the yard after a fresh snow.

This White Christmas—it’s not even white, but pink, glowing,
Like the fuzzy calm in your brain just before you awake on Christmas morning.
At that first kiss of light you lie very still,
listening intently for movement about the house.
In anticipation you creep down the hallway and perch at the top of the steps,
craning your neck to see if there are presents, hoping that Santa liked your cookies.
Outside it’s crisp and blindingly white.
Inside Christmas glows like the sun on your face on a bluebird day.

This White Christmas is limitless…
But the days after … the days after swirl like liquor in coffee
muddied with bits of grind.
The days after are leftovers, paper on the floor.
Debt collectors and missed birthdays. Toys that break.

This White Christmas is a cavernous horse,
its belly full of arms. But we welcomed the gifts,
held out our arms and found gratitude in possession,
For what is our love if not things we can display?

When they pushed that wooden horse to my door,
I opened it.
And in that moment of vulnerability, I wish did not beg
for a return to before, to a place where things did not consume me.
For it’s just things.

I’ve dismantled this “White Christmas”
Packed it away in boxes lost in time.
All that’s left are someone else’s memories—
Decorations I can’t throw away:
Stockings stitched with names,
popsicle stick ornaments and brittle candy canes
Photos glued on paper cups, cut to resemble snowflakes
With baby faces and bright doll eyes.

I have a thousand letters to write, not to ask for something new and better, but to forgive.
I forgive these promises made under Christmas trees.
And the gifts of hollow chocolate Santas—
I forgive myself for always hoping they won’t be empty.

My gift to you is a gift of place
A Christmas village filled with collections of families skating on year-round frozen ponds.
In the front window of their homes Christmas trees adorned
with strands of white pearls and delicate glass ornaments
are never taken down.

Winter Count

And so we begin our winter count.
A month of moons, so slowly she creeps.
Her replies are glacial.
Withering red, the hips of roses
Fall asleep in daytime.
The panes of windows begin to leak,
Letting her spiny fingers prick about the house.

I love her like the moon loves the stars—
Bright eyes in an empty room watching
My slow, fumbling waltz.
I hate her like the moon hates the sun,
Its brazen ego rising against my dim silhouette.

Slipping down hills,
Autumn’s mud cakes as cement to my shoes.
Purple leaves cling to emaciated branches,
Dark like bruises on my grandmother’s arms.
Tomatoes linger melancholy on the vine.

Uneasiness in this change of season,
In sleepless moments we churn.
The rooftops drip our apprehension.
Cupping our hands and running our sentences together,
We wake under the angry moon.
Soon the grass will be small, the wild roses will bloom.

The Yelling Season

In this yelling season we bare our teeth
Devour each other like bottles of wine

I could tell you were drunk
He said
By the way you phrased your words
It takes an ocean, love
I will drown on your floor

Liquor in my coffee
Broken dishes, overturned tables
Behind closed windows
I am wreckage and ruin, love

I am an empty room
Leftovers. Linear bruises
The hallways of late nights, the thud on the floor.
I am pain unconsidered.

You are the splinter for which
I’ve torn back skin
Cut into tissue
Relocated bones to find

At my touch it shatters
I shout for Vodka, Advil, Sanity
I am stitches and wine glasses, garbage of bottles
I am walking a straight line in my head

This is not a problem.