Every year, I get requests to read my poem, “Christmas Papers,” so I am pleased to share it with you in this message, along with its companion poem, “Snow.” I took the photograph which follows the poems at Amnicola Marsh here in Chattanooga.
I was older when I noticed
the same color and pattern
on the Christmas papers
year after year. Each year
a pattern graced a smaller package.
Christmas morning emanated excitement
and opening packages with scissors, carefully
cutting tape, so as not to rip the paper.
I was older when I noticed my mother’s hands,
ironing on Christmas night.
She ironed the same towel again and again.
Under the towel Christmas papers
lost their creases, regained smooth surfaces.
Her hands rolled the paper we could never replace.
Choosing between gifts and new paper, she chose gifts.
Already the snow dissolves
at seven in the morning
in the Chattanooga dawn.
It returns me to an Ohio childhood.
I drag my sled uphill
to skid back down again.
I conclude the days sledding,
await my dad’s return,
a rabbit in his hunting coat.
Blood and guts defile
the whitest landscape,
cleaned up by dogs.
My mother, busy in the kitchen
with rabbit in a pan,
vegetables from a Mason jar.
Birdshot lead between my teeth,
I cannot taste the flesh
washed down with milk.
Awakened from this dream,
I breakfast on oatmeal with raisins,
snow already melting.
Wrapping up my Year
It has been a difficult year with more challenges than most, but for a few minutes, I am happy to focus on some bright spots:
My photograph “Green Heron” is included in the 2021 calendar from Chattanooga Audubon.
Four of my photographs are included in the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild anthology.
Several of my poems appeared in The Avocet and The Weekly Avocet.
My short story, “Life After Writing” won the prose award in the October contest of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild.