This was one of the last poems I wrote before COVID. I composed it on December 24th, 2019. It previously appeared in the 2020 Poetry at Round Top Anthology. I chose to post it tonight because I’m missing three poetry friends who have died in the past few years, as well as my grandfathers, who both passed in 2020.
Some Terribly Sentimental Thing
This afternoon, while wrapping
gifts, I wept because my Uncle John
died three months before I was born,
and I’ve never heard him sing.
The barn cat hunts down the birds
that winter here. His coat spreads ropy
into the air. This year, he circles my legs,
grateful that I no longer have a dog.
In my head, we are slow-dancing
to Christmas songs in the kitchen. In reality,
you are cooking dinner, I am writing
at the table, and this is the loneliest I’ve felt all year.
Tonight I think of Sandra Cisneros
and Frank O’Hara. Of all the still-loves
lost, and all the flames gone out
while the houses still stand.
Persephone is in the underworld now,
but still alive. Sunlight lasted two minutes
longer than yesterday. Solstice always brings
the slow drip of honeyed light.
In Franklin, Illinois, the candles burn.
The chicken sizzles in cast iron.
Our ghosts stand steadfast
around the tree, and they love us.