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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