Do I remember turkey and all the trimmings
when I was small and knew the bracing taste of hope,
like mountain water?
One bird, brought to the door
by some unnamed agency. No more.
But just as well, for how my mother loathed the unrequested blind charity.
Where did they get our name?
I see the accusation yet in Mama’s angry eyes.
Do I remember large boxes beckoning in joyous colors
and tied with ribbon curling in a pile at center top?
Boxes roomy enough to cage a basketball for my brother?
Or hide a baby doll that cried once, briefly,
when you turned her over,
or went to sleep when you laid her down?
No. Without specifying, memory counts the presents few
Pa might get a tie, Ma a pair of stockings
left unexpectantly by a relative.
From us children they received Christmas cards
made out of cut-outs from old magazines,
a child’s fevered determination, and flour paste.
Remembering childhood Christmases
I see through the mists of time
hope’s reservoir diminished by disappointment,
falling away to resignation.
Only now have I thought to ask about my parents,
how, the luxury of giving failed them,
they must have sorrowed
for merely not having.