Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Undecorating" by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor

Mary Soon Lee

Small hands reached past me,
tugging ornaments from the tree:
gold balls, snowmen, two furry sheep,
a star made from popsicle sticks.
The tree emptied of ornament,
we hauled it outside,
dumped it in the snow.
We swept the floor together,
clearing needles,
fragments of tinsel,
and then my helpers fled.

I stood in the bare space
where the tree had been,
nothing left of the old year
and all its bustle,
and it is not that time
rushed by too fast,
but that we crammed it full,
and I want to sweep
long empty hours
through the new year,
weeks with spaces and pauses,
and a day when I ask my daughter
for the first time
in her four-year-old life:
Lucy, shall we bake a cake today?

Poet's Notes: My daughter Lucy is now twelve years old, and my son William is a high school senior. Nonetheless, they both helped decorate the tree last year. We hung up the ornaments, including the two furry sheep plus several decorations they made when they were little. These days a star that my son printed on a 3D printer tops our tree! Both of my children are now taller than I am.

N.B. Sometimes I write a poem and do little to revise it. This is not one of those poems. I wrote the first draft nearly eight years ago and revised it several times since then, gradually paring it down.

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