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Another Christmas, Gathered In
Judith Heron


I went to bed to the ‘ping’ of lids
which promised me the conserve had been
safely sealed. Cranberries, winter pears,
oranges, lemon zest and ginger, boiled
until translucent, then ladled into jars
brought home from thrift stores
to replace so many already given—
this winter season of gifts and light.

I rise to see an array of vibrant jars,
bright burgundy rose in my kitchen.
This sends me to my canning shed
to fetch a jar still left from last year.
What can account for such a difference,
season to season? Last year’s jar is pale
as a strand of hope extended through time,
the color of down on a winter bird.

The day my son left at dusk, after such
a fine visit, I brought out my maslin* pan
and set to work. The bright color of this batch
may show how much joy was tucked
into our days. The gentle feasts, walks
by the sea, the alpine tree skied down
from the mountain again this year.
The remembered tinsel rain, saved

since the year before I was born,
the war still on. We marvel at the cache
of leftover lead—salvaged, packaged
to brighten Christmas homes in 1944.
The sailing ships we made a dozen
years ago from halved walnuts, copper
sails suspended on slender threads.
My mother’s glass bells, garlands

of red berries draped and yes, oh, yes!
the candles in their golden holders
placed on tips of boughs with care.
I am deep in the reverie of morning
remembering the passage of days—
the years lying one on top of the other
as gently as the orange frosting
on the holiday cake, finally made.

© by Judith Heron.
Used with the author’s permission.


*A traditional European and British pot for making marmalade, jam, and preserves. It's a solid, heavy pan with a teacup shape and thick bottom.

Photo credit: Judith Heron




Judith Heron lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island. She has been published in a number of chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane, and in three anthologies: A Murder of Crones (Ptarmigan Press 2007), The Wild Weathers: a gathering of love poems (Leaf Press 2012), and Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press 2013). Though she has always lived on the west coast of Canada, Judith cherishes the homestead traditions of her prairie heritage. She relishes the rituals of becoming an elder, which include permission to visit and work in various gardens and to spend more time "with the birds."





Post New Comment:
"pale as a strand of hope extended through time,"this line made me hold my breath. It's perfect. The images, the colors, the memorieswhat a lovely array! Thank you, Judith!
Posted 12/30/2023 11:58 PM
Even though I never experienced either canned preserves or tinsel, I love this poem for its images, its nostalgia and reverence, especially like "season of gifts and light" and "the color of down on a winter bird." "Tinsel rain" is perfect.
Posted 12/30/2023 12:47 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautiful images and metaphors in this poem.
Posted 12/30/2023 12:35 PM
Shoshauna Shy:
Love "Last year's jar is pale as a strand of hope," and reference to the son and the last three lines. Christmas always does bring back former Christmases in layers. Kudos!
Posted 12/30/2023 09:47 AM
Our tree has beautiful decorations, but no tinsel. I remember grandma's tomato preserves.
Posted 12/30/2023 09:45 AM
michael escoubas:
Like the image of "tinsel rain" and the whole thing full of color and fond remembrances. One more example of the role poetry can and does play in our lives. Nicely done, Judith.
Posted 12/30/2023 09:36 AM
Angela Hoffman:
Oh- the comforts of homestead traditions!
Posted 12/30/2023 09:35 AM
Larry Schug:
Beautiful, Judith "the color of dawn on a winter bird"--my favorite line
Posted 12/30/2023 09:00 AM

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