Monday, December 28, 2015

Snapshots of December

I remember

the Betty Crocker Cookbook
open to the cookie section
binder pages
dusted with flour
sticky with sugar
the smell of dough clinging
to preheated air
my sisters twisting strands
of candy cane cookies
fingers glistening with
peppermint extract.

Laurel and Hardy
bump and run in
black and white
the March of the Tin Soldiers
all pop and hiss
across the decades on
a tiny kitchen TV tucked
between dusty volumes of
the Art of French Cooking
never opened
just displayed.

The tall and the stout
set loose the soldiers to
save the maiden
and the day.

I stop and watch despite
knowing the outcome
never changes.

A dial stuck on Channel 9
WGN from Chicago
constant kitchen friend
Sherlock Holmes
Family Classics with
Frazier Thomas while
the holidays baked in
our crowded kitchen.

I remember Mary
my sister eight years gone
making a turkey dance before
it was buttered in a pan.

And later
Mary sneaking crispy bits of
salty turkey skin from the
steaming bird's back.

And who stole
the bread slice from the
bird's butt?
Soaked with stock
that loaf heel
gateway to the
stuffing kingdom.

There was the year of
the Great Turkey Drop
when the bird tumbled
and my father's ruddy face
turned fifty shades of fury.

Pick it up.
Wash it off.
Continue. As. Normal.

I still can smell the falling snow
and taste it on my tongue
particular to my memory
no snow since then is
the same.

The crunch under
fearless, nimble
children's feet --
a love of ice now gone
from fragile, weary
grown-up bones.

The smell
the taste
the sound of
Midwestern winter.

The echoes of the trains
rolling Rock Island Lines
chuckle and roar on
tracks near the river
my head tilted up
swirling flakes coating my
eyelashes in the falling light
of coming dusk.

A real fire
throws heat across
those younger years
a warmth
a pop and hiss
a comfort to
cold bones
a place to taste
the bitter waters of a
winter romance.

Better remembered
for cocoa and
caroling with
musically inclined friends
loud and joyful
choir kids
a little prideful --
just a bit -- of
talent and sweet harmony.

And it was good.

I wonder now
in later years
how much my mother did
enjoy it all or if she
just endured it for
a selfish child who spent
her days largely in
her own small world.

Chaos, even happy
chaos had to be

And I was selfish.

I didn't know
how much
until much later
in my life
that I was oblivious
and so obtuse
and my mother was so tired.

Christmas now is
a quiet thing
for me
no cookies
no chaos
no dancing bird or
tin soldier march.

There is the quiet and
there is me
and sometimes
I wish there was
some chaos
happy chaos --
even if it exhausts me --
in the silent space
brightened by faux fire
of the Netflix hearth.

I told my sister
I was pondering
where I am
what I want to be
where I want to go
as the old year crumbles
and a new year grows.

I just don't know.


I want a future with
less fear and a
fair measure of joy
and please
someone to laugh with
who actually wants to laugh
with me
and possibilities
more vibrant
than any memories
I hold.

May it be so for you, too.