The Accidental Present
I woke up early and listened to the wind
blowing hard through the wood of the trees.
All dead and frozen out there, white and harsh,
a frigid, unrelenting wasteland of snow;
a place no one should have to go. Not even the dog.
Should we let her poop in the basement? Here, inside,
there is a warm blanket on the couch, and free refills
on coffee, if you are willing to go as far as the kitchen.
There are lamps lit and Irish music on the CD,
and the lingering smell of the Christmas tree,
under which lovingly-wrapped gifts ring the cut-off
trunk, and above, a star that Owen made years ago
from a toilet paper roll and glittery pipe cleaners.
I give thanks to this tree from the north woods
that gave its life for us to string lights across its branches
and touch all the ornaments, recalling Christmases past.
Best of all, there is Owen, the not-so-little boy, sleeping in
on Christmas morning (being hip to the truth of Santa)
who nonetheless nodded when I asked if we should still
set out the plate of cookies, and who himself rooted
in the fridge to produce a carrot for the reindeer. So, when I sat
alone in the dark morning to eat the sweet evidence and strew
crumbs across Santa’s special plate, I was alarmed to realize
that I had not used different paper for the stocking gifts.
Even a savvy eleven-year-old who has graduated to using
deodorant should receive his Santa presents in foreign wrap.
As luck would have it, I ran out of tape and had to scramble
to re-package everything. But, I got the job done, as only a mother
can do at six a.m., or any time, really. Later, washing up breakfast,
I accidentally knocked the Santa plate to the floor. Sacred object,
now in more than ten and less than a million pieces. God dammit!
I exclaimed. Husband and son came running. Are you okay?
We found a shard with an address label on the back,
the factory in which the plate was made, a reminder
that even broken things announce new life, and within
each thing dead or destroyed, creation is already written.