By Sandy Compton
Can you smell it? You remember.
Rows of magic electric embers
glow on verdant tinseled boughs.
The fragrance fills the winter house.
Gifts piled on the felted cover
Carefully wrapt by loving mother
‘Round thawing stem of sacrificial tree.
Hunted down through frozen fields,
an ermine forest finally yields
a balsam fir with perfect top
to grace a house with Christmas.
Dragged by father for yards — or miles
through billowing, glittering frozen piles,
Stood against the parlor wall,
Braced against some sudden fall,
Flat side in to hide its faults,
Underneath it, St. Nick’s vault,
Perfection in imagination.
The loveliest tree to proclaim salvation,
There are cookies on the shelf
For the jolly scarlet elf,
But doubt is planted wide and deep
For want of knowing, you cannot sleep.
You sit sentry on the stairs.
The clock in the hall marches on
marking every moment
while in your prepubescent brain,
sacrilege is foment.
Midnight. All is still.
You have never heard such silence,
And likely never again will.
Dawn. The cookies are gone.
You wake on the landing at first light.
Someone’s covered you in the night.
The stockings are full and much more.
A boot print on the parlor floor?
And there is that thing you asked for,
Parked beside the tree.
The younger siblings descend with glee,
Singing Santa’s praises.
Could it be? You guess you’ll see
What doubt next Christmas raises.
Caught between Magic and pragmatism,
Truth calls like steel to magnetism,
But you decide that you’ll believe
For at least one more Christmas Eve.