Keeping Christmas Day dawns bright the morning after Twelfth Night,
the sixth of January, a date so deeply etched in our minds
by that rascal Shakespeare
who cast his fantastical net enchanting future centuries.
I am sad, but yet not sad,
for it is time for Christmas to come down.
In the living room, the Christmas tree stands
so perfect in all its gaudy, glittering, garlanded height
like an eccentric cousin visiting from a more formal land.
Unwrapped presents lie piled on the velvet tree skirt
below gleaming Christmas balls that hang like planets
from balsam boughs.
Silently, we begin the ritual undressing of the tree,
as if decommissioning a once-proud ship,
our movements mysterious, pagan, druidic….
Later, the snaking strings of lights coiled for next year,
the ornaments safe in fruit boxes, the tree top angel
tucked in tissue paper,
I pull the tree free of the stand and carry it out the door,
a trail of balsam needles littering the floor.
Outside, a few Christmas trees are already by the curb,
sprawled beside trash bags and garbage cans,
but it is our household rule never to discard a Christmas tree.
Out back, I lop off each branch, balsam pervading the air.
Balsam resin collects on my hands as I spread the boughs
I place the eight-foot trunk to edge the raspberries,
knowing that in summers to come each sumptuous berry
will have the taste of Christmas—
plump, acid-sweet, Santa Claus red….
Standing, I see all around the yard
the trunks of Christmas trees from years past,
edging fruit trees and garden beds,
leaching Christmas cheer and childhood
back into the teeming soil.
© by Timothy Walsh.
Used with the author’s permission.