We were just two tangled strands of lights
checking each dead bulb to see what would fix
the blues. It's tradition. My grandmother still
cries after the presents are opened and it's been
three years since he died. I think she expects
something else. The kids are all grown and it's just
gift cards and socks. I didn't ask for this but
"Thank you so much, it's just what I needed."
The first time my mother brought my father
home for Christmas, he was five years younger
than I am now. I can't picture him at that age
because he's on his knees, swearing at the angels
in the tree about the lights not staying still.
They just keep pulsing, then racing, then flickering.
You cried the whole night in bed. I said goodbye
in the morning and closed the door behind you for
the last time. I can't picture my father doing this.
The lights go out and sometimes it isn't the strand.
No amount of plugging and unplugging will help;
you have to take from another to replace the dead.