First the bright-grinned kids,
Boys in red sweaters,
News of promotions.
Soon enough the grandchildren,
All lined up by the tree,
Tallest to shortest.
Then later a snapshot, no message,
A man our age with a new, younger wife.
And now today a note, no picture,
In the hand of a woman we do not know:
They got it all, the surgeon says;
Expecting him home for Christmas.
THE VEGETABLE SLICER
Caught up short late one December,
I bought a vegetable slicer,
Garishly hawked at a shopping mall in Arlington:
You want julienne strips? Watch this!
I found out later she had cried on Christmas morning.
Duty required packing it up when we sold that house,
But not the next one.
This was forty years ago.
Regretted presents pile up at the curbside;
Love persists, moves on.
DECEMBER 7, 2003
The post office flag is at half staff;
For a moment I can’t think why.
For us, this was my father’s birthday;
(In a child’s memory, only a radio, speaking darkly).
He would be one hundred today.
We fix Christmas wreaths for the cemetery,
Something my mother had done.
I bind greenery to metal frame
And wonder idly how much more
Floral wire I’m apt to need.
“Christmas Cards” appeared in A Little Poetry, Spring-Summer 2007; “The Vegetable Slicer: appeared in Poet’s Ink, March 2008; "December 7, 2003” appeared in Thorny Locust, December 2006