top of page

O Christmas Tree 


Daddy and I steered the tractor past 

tobacco barns 

and into the woods, down a road

I had never before noticed,

to a sedge field, to a cedar, 

taller than my father.

Cold and cloud cover gave me hope

for snowfall, and the road

curved away among trees crowned by mistletoe.


In our living room, Mama, Sister, and I

loaded the prickly branches

with strings of lights, bulbs bigger 

than my thumb, and we added 

balls, garlands, tinsel, a singing angel. 

My job was to check the water

in the stand, red heart, simple ventricle—

I always filled it to the brim.


But all too soon old tannenbaum 

dried to shimmering tinder,

and on New Year’s Eve, after we unloaded,

unwrapped the limbs,

Mama helped me carry the Christmas tree 

to the trash barrel, let me strike paper matches

until the leaves became

a rush of chattering-twirling 

sparks, decorating the tree ascending.



    --John Thomas York,    © 2012

bottom of page