In this Winter’s silence
Our feet crunch and the tree swishes
As we drag it across the deep frozen lake.
In my memory it is many different things rooted in the same event.
Flames each have this independent life
Rooted in the same burning.
We dragged discarded dried brown Christmas Trees
Onto Indian Lake to burn them
At the end of every Christmas Vacation.
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.
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?
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.
I think of television warnings
As I watch it go up.
These potential infernos
Sit in our living rooms throughout December
Waiting for my brother and I to manifest them.
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.
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.
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.
Did it bring them back to Autumn leave burnings
Ancestral cave man memories
Or just crystallize the things we’re not supposed to say about the holidays?
Those very same Christmas Trees are still burning on Indian Lake
Even when it is not iced over
Even across the decades.
It was not a good time
Adjectives demean it.
That time was what it was.
We burned Christmas trees on Indian Lake.