Or An 11-Year-Old Ponders December 24th
Can you smell it? You remember.
Rows of magic electric embers
glow upon verdant tinseled boughs
The fragrance fills the winter house
Gifts piled on the felted cover
Carefully wrapt by loving mother
’round thawing stem of sacrificial tree.
Hunted down through frozen fields
an ermine forest finally yields
a balsam fir with perfect top
to grace a house with Christmas.
Dragged by father for yards — or miles
through billowing, glittering frozen piles
Stood against the parlor wall,
Braced against some sudden fall,
Flat side in to hide its faults
Underneath it, St. Nick’s vault,
Perfection in imagination.
The loveliest tree to proclaim salvation,
There are cookies on the shelf
For the jolly scarlet elf
But doubt is planted wide and deep
For want of knowing, you could not sleep.
You sit sentry on the stairs.
The clock in the hall marches on
marking every moment
while in your prepubescent brain,
sacrilege is foment.
Midnight. All is still.
You have never heard such silence,
And likely never again will.
Dawn. The cookies are gone.
You wake on the landing at first light.
Someone’s covered you in the night.
The stockings are full and much more.
A boot print on the parlor floor?
And there is that thing you asked for.
Parked beside the tree.
The younger siblings descend with glee,
Singing Santa’s praises.
Could it be? You guess you’ll see
What doubt next Christmas raises.
Caught between Magic and pragmatism
Truth calls like steel to magnetism
But you decide that you’ll believe
For at least one more Christmas Eve.
Sandy Compton’s newest book, The Dog With His Head On Sideways and Nineteen Other Sappy Sentimental Stories, will be in local bookstores in January. It is available for preorder now at bluecreekpress.com/books.