The Light Festival: A Poem

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas was a blade that year
but, unimpeded, you took me to the Light Festival
in the park. From every tree
tiny moons were lynched in rows,black cords
like the shadowy arms
of spider monkeys at night, bright white lights
and multicolored bulbs swinging from the highest branches
to the ground beside our feet.

As I walked along the weather-cracked sidewalk
with you, who would someday cease to love me,
the promise of neatly-wrapped gifts swung overhead
like a corpse. You rapped me repeatedly
with what-would-you-like, your jaw
dropping with the dead weight of your voice
in the frozen air. Your limp tongue lolled
on the other side of eggnog teeth, and pink overran
my cheeks, though only because of the cold.

While, with a hungry merriment, the first hints of winter
bit through my peppermint-colored sneakers, the trees
infuriated themselves with orange. They faded
to pallid yellow. A child in a red hat poured hot cocoa
on their roots, and everything turned brown.

I wore my earmuffs as a shield against
what-would-you-like. I swore to you my ears
were cold. Then I tripped.
My sneakered toe was inhibited by a skinny rip
in the pavement; my chin collided
with cement, my white wool gloves completely useless
when I needed to make a pillow of the blow.
You kept plodding along, not noticing my absence at first
because you didn’t like holding hands.
I suppose for you, I was a dead weight.

When we saw Star Wars in the theatre,
I was stunned by the ships that soared
into the streaking stars, full hyperdrive
into the fathomlessness, the bottomless expanse, blasting away.
You looked just like a starship then,
walking away from me at the Light Festival.
My chin throbbed while a tiny LED moon
glared beside my dying tremble
in the frozen air. From the ever-furthering distance trolled
the angels’ chorus: what-would-you-like, what-

A promise that you’d stay,
I decided,
in crisp silver paper and green ribbon
under the tree.


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