"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oratorio


The Christmas tree is back where it belongs and birds rest where ornaments did.
They appear to be fooled by it all
which makes us feel better for it.

The heirloom ornaments,
each with a story,
are tissue-wrapped and boxed up in the back room that has no heat
but it doesn't matter.
The figgy pudding drizzled with brandy failed to light. But it didn't matter.
The cookies were all eaten or given away to family members from afar who are now back in their own quiet homes and private lives, though we pretend
through email and the occasional phone call
to keep up.

Somebody could buy a puppy and I wouldn't know
or find a boyfriend
or a lover
and I wouldn't know.

Better not to let one know
about the lover.

Only the garland remains, strung around
the porch from hooks where ferns hung through October.
The cedar swag is lush in a different way.
And I might be jealous of a lover,
of one mindless for me
and damn the consequences.

To have that.

Not a puppy, though one understands
the need to lower oneself to the level of animals.
and puppy kisses
after the family Christmas
where we all pretend to like each other.

The standing rib roast didn't happen
but we always give ourselves another chance.

The Christmas cards didn't happen . . . where are they?
People don't send cards anymore and the few
we received aren't cards.
They're family photos-
pictures of dressed up children forced into
velvet outfits and smiles
with no note, not even a signature.
Don't send me those.

Or pictures of puppies
though some do the puppies because they don't have children
nor want them or their kisses and expenses.
You can't have children without
considering what they will take from you
over the course of a lifetime,
the arithmetic of it

When the tree is forced through the doorway
in the opposite direction, we sweep up the needles
and rearrange the furniture and think about next year

11 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne, you've done it again. Found that place beneath the veneer, probed the heart and released the emotion. People want Christmas to be what it can't, given human entanglements. We can love it for what it can be and be happy for fragrant trees and reconnections no matter how faulty.
Happy new year to you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Tricia,
Thank you for your words, wise beyond your years, methinks!

Yes, no matter how faulty, we love it just the same. Thank you.

Jannie Funster said...

I'll take a kittenover a puppy any day, now that I Know firsthand how easy and clean cats are.

Or a lover.

Brilliant!!

Yvonne, what a super treat to read your deep and excellent poem.

Pretend to keep up.

Brilliant!

just super! You are a true and brave talent.

way way way beyond the veneer, indeed.

xo

Jannie Funster said...

Wait -- that seemed to end up wrong in writing. I WILL not take a lover,as I would a kitten. I have a great one, been with him 20 years now. A great lover, that is -- my husband. The cat we've had 4.5 years.

I meant that line and thought of yours was brill.

xo

Anne R. Allen said...

A great poem leaves you a bit breathless. Speechless. Everything that can be said is right there on the page: no more words are possible.

This did that for me. I've been wrestling with Christmas hangover and this compresses all that pain into words.

Nessa said...

A very fascinating piece. You held me spellbound with your wonderings.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Jannie,
Thank you so much. You are too kind. No worries, I knew what you meant! Thanks again for the nice comment.

Anne,
Thank you!! It is kinda like a hangover, isn't it? I'm so glad you liked this. It means a lot to me.

Nessa,
Hi! Thanks for commenting. I'm happy you shared your thoughts.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the images. The one of the photos instead of cards is so true. :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Jemi,
Thank you.

Helen Ginger said...

Wonderful piece. I could "see" the holidays through the eyes of the person reminiscing.

The older my kids get, the better our Christmases are. They come home and join in, loving the being together more than the presents.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Helen,
Thank you so much.