With the crackling of tinsel,
The snipping of ribbons,
Surprises were defined by our child’s smile.
Mild miracles were all
We had grown to expect.
I see you there still,
On the cold living room floor,
White nightgown crisp and rumpled,
Sunlight bright strands of your hair
Falling across your face,
Across your grin for the camera,
Across your grin for our daughter.
In a box there’s a photo
Of these ceremonies,
Other photos as well,
Displaying faces and fun
Like forgotten toys left
In the coolness of a closet,
All saved for future use.
On other mornings,
The raccoons in the skylight
On the glass,
As you rolled over to me,
In the tangled sheets
To kiss my face awake.
On other mornings,
The snapping and popping of bacon
In the sun flooded kitchen,
And the waterfall of your hair
Swinging as you moved from counter
And there was the cold sand
Above the ocean,
Where we hid between dunes
To warm our hands under
Each others’ coats.
When you looked into the surprise of my eyes
To find a very old soul.
How I was flattered.
And then there was the bookcase toppled,
The chairs thrown down,
Wine glasses shattered,
The swinging arms,
All the cuts and bruises
And all the things thrown.
Disappointments disgorged like the vomit
In a morning after too much wine.
One morning, in fleeing another broken room,
I found our daughter
Crying at the edge of her bed.
In an instant she had discovered
The pretty piece of broken glass
Which slices the skin,
The bright fruit with worms,
The coal in the toe of a stocking
And I knew there was nothing
To be done.
One more morning found her toys
Laid out across the wet green grass,
To be sold, to be sold.
Little girls came to carry the dolls away,
The hobby horse was bickered to seven
And some change,
A bent backed old woman took your knitting,
And I felt no guilt at all
Until someone asked the price
Of the tiny crystal Christmas tree
I had brought to you
Before all the harm was done.
This morning, one last box
Sits before the lonely lamp of the end table,
That which is yours- is yours again,
Strapped beneath the name and address
Is the final present to emerge,
An angel in brown paper,
A prayer for us all.
Now left alone with these unwrappings,
I still see the minor miracles,
And all the broken glass
As proof of something more-
A little girl’s heart.