Thirteen ways of Remembering the burning of The Christmas Trees on Indian Lake

After Stevens

I.

In this Winter’s silence

Our feet crunch and the tree swishes

As we drag it across the deep frozen lake.

 

II. 

In my memory it is many different things rooted in the same event.

Flames each have this independent life

Rooted in the same burning.

 

III. 

We dragged discarded dried brown Christmas Trees

Onto Indian Lake to burn them

At the end of every Christmas Vacation.

 

IV.

If I stayed out of his way

I did not feel like a tag along kid brother

We weren’t two separate people but just brothers.

 

V.

I do not know what the most profound part of the event was

The alchemy of fire and ice and cold?

The symbolism of the years end?

The burning bush instantiated before us?

The simple danger of fire and what it could do to the very ground beneath our feet?

 

VI.

Smoke casts a shadow

On ice frosted with snow

By my boot clad feet.

I do not have the words

To say that everything is so insubstantial.

 

VII.

I think of television warnings

As I watch it go up.

These potential infernos

Sit in our living rooms throughout December

Smoldering invisibly

Waiting for my brother and I to manifest them.

 

VIII.

I know other secrets.

Like the two inches of water that will lay beneath

The smoldering snake like ruined remnants.

And the crackle whistle

Of burning and wind coming down over that frozen place.

It is all bigger than the tree.

But it is not.

 

IX.

As I look back I see suddenly that I might divide my life along this event.

There was Time before the burning of the Christmas trees.

And time after the burning of the Christmas trees.

 

X

I wonder if the people in the houses

Overlooking the place where we stood

Waking up with all manner of holiday hang over

Wondered what was going on as the flames reached up and up.

XI

 Did it bring them back to Autumn leave burnings

Childhood campfires

Ancestral cave man memories

Or just crystallize the things we’re not supposed to say about the holidays?

 

XII.

Those very same Christmas Trees are still burning on Indian Lake

Even when it is not iced over

Even across the decades.

 

XIII.

It was not a good time

Or bad.

Adjectives demean it.

That time was what it was.

We burned Christmas trees on Indian Lake.

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Christmas reflections, version 2

Every year I tell myself
This is the year
That everything will fall into place.
This is the year
That there will be peace on the frosted windows of my home.
This is the year
There will be contentment in the deepest part of me.

And every year
There are just enough
Just enough
Little glimpses
Frozen moments
To give me just a glint of hope
That next year
It’ll be better.

The cynic in me
Says that I should have learned by now.
The cynic in me
Says that it’s not going to happen.
The cynic in me
Says that I am Charlie Brown
And Santa Claus himself plays the part of Lucy
Snatching the football out from before me
Every single year
Right before I kick it.

There is something bigger than cyncism.
There is something greater than consumption.
It is the very fact that we know to feel despair
That we know that
This is not how it was suppused to be
That gives me hope.

There is this eternity in our hearts.
And there was eternity,
And he was also a man
Born among us
Died among us
And he is gone now, but so close.

It is right that we remember him
With this
Happy sadness
Despair filled joy
Aching, longing contentmen.

And this all gives me hope.

And I come to this sudden understanding:
I do not love this Christmas by ignoring the despair we face
I love Christmas because of the despair we face.

Perhaps the delicious disappointments
arise from this tension this attention
we fufill so little of our potential
and yet we are enough to know that we could be so much more.

Despite all my yesterday’s promises I haven’t crawled far out of the mire
and yet I am ever so slowly crawling out of the mire.

A greatness, a nobility resides
not so much in us
as in our aspiration to greatness and nobility.

I am a gnat leaping into the darkness
With only the faint promise of the far side of the canyon
falling and leaping falling and leaping falling and leaping.
And There is this Jesus and he is
The eagle soaring across the gulf
As we are falling and leaping falling and leaping and falling and leaping
That we know to long to be him, to be with him.
This is my Christmas hope.

Holiday Reflections

Sad and lovely.

Exquisite.

It is not only in this striving for more than I am

than I have

than I think I am capeable of.

It is not only this dream, this heaven-like dream

which would, after all require utter metamorphisis

of what we are

and the lives we live

and the choices we make.

Am I ready to bask in the warmth of their love?

But it is also this right-hereness-and-nowness

A dirtiness flimsiness substanitality

It is more than a thing made precious in spite of

so much pettiness impatience and greed.

Will I be able to pretend that I basking in the warmth of their love?

Will I be able to put it all away for a few minutes?

Will the show make it real?

Will the real make it show?

It wouldn’t be wholly true

to say that it is all made precious because of

so much pettiness impatience and greed

either.

Perhaps the delicious disappointments

arise from this tension this attention

we are not what we could be

and yet we are enough to know that we could be.

Despite all my yesterday’s promises I haven’t crawled far out of the mire

and yet I am ever so slowly crawling out of the mire.

A greatness a nobility resides

not so much in us

as in our aspiration to greatness and nobility.

I am a gnat leaping into the darkness

only the faint promise of the far side of the canyon

falling and leaping falling and leaping falling and leaping.

The eagle which soars across the gulf between what is and what might be

is so much more than us,

and yet

it is not.