The December Recollection: "O Christmas Tree"
While the November poem discusses a memory that seemed to come out of nowhere, one that took me by surprise, the December poem describes what has always been my favorite Christmas memory: finding a cedar tree, with my father; decorating the tree, with my sister and mother; and then. . .
The setting for the poem is a dairy and tobacco farm in Yadkin County—a hundred-acre farm of creek bottom, pasture, and rolling hills. On a clear day, we could see the Blue Ridge to the north. Along with tobacco, there were fields of alfalfa, corn, and sorghum, feed for the Holsteins. There were sheds, tobacco barns, a milk barn, two silos, and our house, a white, one-story bungalow. We could see the irrigation pond from the back porch. In December, the tobacco and corn fields were shorn, rows of stumps where stalks once stood.
Today, the common practice for disposing of Christmas trees, if one has a stocked pond handy, is to sink undecorated trees in the water: red cedars, especially, provide berries for the fish and shelter among the limbs. However, I am afraid our tree would not have been suitable. Not only were the limbs wrapped in tinsel, they were covered with fake snow, dispensed from aerosol cans. I'm sure we slathered on the white goop. It was probably the only snow we would see on Christmas Day. I'm sure the snow would have been harmful to fish, that the aerosol helped to punch a hole in the ozone layer.
So maybe the trash barrel was a better choice than the pond. The best, burial.
This poem was first published in Appalachian Journal, and then, in 2012, in Cold Spring Rising, by Press 53.
--John Thomas York