This morning north
and east of what
was once my home,
the dusky mountains
trace their frozen
against a salmon sky.
In the middle distance
cozy little houses
tuck themselves among
deep mounds of snow,
exhaling from their
brick red chimneys
all I know
of them or theirs.
Nearby the pointed firs
point up, to pointlessness
through january air.
Choosing among apples at the supermarket
just the other day I heard
Bing Crosby singing “Jingle Bells.”
Background music so I’m told
can motivate a buyer in a store.
But Bing? Bing Crosby? This must be
the day marked shopping day for us
I say to a green pyramid of Granny Smiths.
And sure enough here comes a busload
slowly from the home for seasoned citizens.
I doubt the muzak moves them any faster
though most likely they’ll remember Bing.
Bing Crosby, ah, Bing Crosby,
how you crooned and nanna swooned
how you spun inside the gramophone
seventy-eight revolutions per minute
dreaming of a White Christmas just like
the ones you used to know. Was that how
I came to think of Christmas mostly as a longing?
Strange and difficult to satisfy. I try
to re-create the pleasures of the past
(and leave the woundings out), but it’s a task
unfestive, one I’m loathe to be about.
All I hear are someone’s memories.
All I see grows gaudier, each year
more desperate to enforce the thing.
All I want is willingness to let the night be dark
(except for stars), dear friends, these apples
red and green, and (maybe) just a bit of Bing.
From the trusty crock you teach
how cold a winter’s morning
or how warm a summer’s day might be.
Oh not in thermometric numbers by degree
but by your suave substantial answer
to the knife tip’s touch,
by your complexion and your spreadability.
At your most noble, taken new
from finest milk and churned
to a consistency all of your own,
epitome of softness and a cache
of flavor—you’re unsalted, sweet,
delicately of the pasture: dandelion,
clover or alfalfa, onion grass…
I love yourself
by any means conveyed—
a raft of toast, a lobster tail,
an artichoke sauteed—even my cat
demands a tiny pat of you each day.
But best of all, piece de resistance,
those days when I bake bread
I break a hunk
warm, before the loaf is sliced,
and slather you all over it.
Then you are paradise.