‘under the tree’
it's hard to celebrate christmas
in the center of a crime scene,
but we do it every year,
in the living room,
gathered around a tree
that has been dead for several months
and has been spray-painted green.
one year, we all forced smiles
and jumped at the ringing phone
when one of us was missing.
we all burst into tears
upon the unwrapping
of a tiny pair of jeans.
last year was uneventful,
though something small and dark
was smoldering beneath the surface
in the manner of a discarded cigarette
about to ignite a forest fire.
gathering around the piano,
or near the fire built once a year for the occasion,
or in a strained semi-circle with one parent on each end,
we do our best to rise above the individual sins
and make merry.