beginning December 26
we remove one ornament each day from the stiff evergreen boughs
until the branches
are finally cleared of ice skating penguins
and trumpeting angels dripping glitter.
then my father lifts the tree
from its space between the couch and the living room window
and drags it through the house to the front door,
followed by a ticker tape parade of pine needles on the carpet.
my mother hauls out the vacuum cleaner, gritting her teeth, thinking:
finally. Christmas is over.
the ornaments are disappearing unusually slowly.
my parents are waiting
for an end to the holiday season
and canít understand why it is stretching so long.
I awake early the morning before Valentineís Day
and catch my brother hanging
a yellow star on the tree.
13 January 2002