I used to stand so tall
and sway in the passing breezes—
I used to hold my limbs towards the heavens
and offer a quiet and safe place for birds
just passing through.
I stood on the little hilltop for several short years
comforted by my nearby cousins
and aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters who
waved daily, happily, at me in the sunshine
as we basked in the warmth of the day,
or enjoyed a lovely wonderful shower
which rinsed all the dust and grime away.
Our lives were simple,
and we needed nothing more.
And then this winter, some humans came along
and they played in the snow around us
they laughed in loud voices
and chased each other around me
and a little red-haired girl grabbed my branches
and said “This one daddy, I want this one!”
Her daddy, and mommy, and two brothers
came bouncing around to see how fat I was
and the mother admired me greatly
as she looked at all the wonderful spots that
I had been growing for years—
the special places
that would fit her shiny glass ornaments just so
and hold the garlands of popcorn and lights
and streams of twinkling tinsel
which would flutter ever so with just the slightest
change in air from someone passing by
as they’d come to gaze upon me
all dressed in my special finery
and on my very tippy-tippy-top
they’d place a star
that would twinkle with tiny lights
for baby Jesus’ birthday—
just like that star so long long ago
which I heard all about
as they took me from my spot on the hill
away from all my nearby cousins
and aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters—
and took me to their home
they placed me upright in a pan of water
and bumped into me over & over
they talked and told the story
and as they filled me up
and dressed me til I sparkled like jewels
from every angle
and I held all that up in my strong branches
proudly, as I listened,
and they talked about how I was the best tree
the fattest tree
the perfect tree for Christmas
and it was my destiny.
And then, after I was all dressed up
shiny, bright, and twinkling happily
they all went away.
I heard them saying they were going to “watch TV.”
I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just watch ME
because I was all dressed up, and they spent so long
getting me like that, but I blinked and twinkled
alone, in front of the big window
well into the evening,
until the little red-haired girl came by
making all my tinsel dance
as she bent to unplug me.
Days went by and slowly, beneath me
bright boxes with even brighter bows
were placed beneath my branches.
When I was plugged in,
I would sparkle against the packages—
and the reflections
would glitter back up at me
all over again.
One night, very late, the mommy & daddy
came and plugged me in, and started whispering
while they brought more bright boxes to put beneath me.
And then, next to me, close enough to peek inside,
they put a baby buggy with a lovely red-haired dolly,
and two matching blue bicycles for the slightly bigger brothers.
I twinkled proudly while the mommy & daddy
tucked the presents all around me
and then stood back to admire their handy-work.
My tinsel fluttered as they stepped up
to pull my plug, but didn’t—
the daddy gave my branch a stiff shake
and pronounced me “still fresh enough.”
He kissed his wife, poured some water into my bowl
and left me to twinkle against the dark of the night window
as midnight came & went.
I was still standing there twinkling and holding up
all those bright ornaments and lights, garlands, & jewels
when first thing early in the morn,
as the birds began to sing
and the sun began to rise over the edge of the earth
the little red-haired girl and her brothers
came running to me
The mommy & daddy came too, looking very sleepy
and took the presents from beneath me
and passed them out to be opened—
of course, the bicycles and the buggy with the doll
were the very first things they saw
and had big cards tied to them that said:
When they were all finished unwrapping
there was a big pile of litter around me in a circle
of papers & strings & ribbons & stuffings & jumbles
as deep as the bottom of my branches!!
I twinkled merrily, proud to bounce my lights
off all that clutter and mess of Merry Christmas!
Soon enough, mommy came along,
with the little red-haired girl,
pulling along her new dolly in its buggy,
and they pulled & pushed and crammed all the used up fun
into large ugly black plastic bags
that got closed up tightly at the top—
so tight, in fact
that my twinkling lights could not shine at all
on the pretty paper or ribbon or twisted strings.
And the bags went away
and that night from my place in front of the window
as I twinkled—
with the spot beneath me naked and bare
I stood and stared
out into the darkness
at the two dark bags alone at the curb
so full of Christmas cheer.
Several & several days went by—
I didn’t count them.
I sparkled though, still nicely, and full of joy
I bounced my lights against the glass
and out into the night.
I fluttered my tinsel every chance I got
and watched as the little red-haired girl
took my popcorn strands away and outside
and tossed popcorn out into the grass
for the birds to come & carry away.
I wondered if any of the birds remembered me
or recognized me as I stood there in the window
holding out my branches
showing off my fine mouth-blown imported ornaments
like the royalty of trees that they had said I was
so many days ago.
And soon, the mommy came again, with more boxes.
I could hear the family, they were watching TV again
in the other room—something called a PARADE.
It was New Years Day now, and I found out that
that was another special day, but not one for me.
As the bands played in the TV in the other room
and the horses pranced,
and the rose-covered floats
shaped like all sorts of fantasy creatures
delighted the family
and the little red-haired girl hugged her dolly
I lost my glitter and glamour
strand by strand and
mouth-blown imported glass ornament by
mouth-blown imported glass ornament.
The mommy unwound my lights
and wrapped them into the boxes, she placed my
ornaments, my strands & garlands in boxes too.
She stripped me, and took away everything she had given me
except the tinsel.
She took my water bowl!
My pine needles;
(now that I could see without all the sparkle blinding me)
had dropped all over the floor beneath me.
I must have looked the sad pathetic sight;
naked of jewels AND of needles.
My branches drooped with my resolve.
I stood in the window empty now, and watched,
as the children went past, playing with their new toys.
And by & by the daddy came home.
He carried me out to the curb
and placed me right down where those two
large ugly black plastic bags
full of used up fun
I had to lay there, because without my bowl of water
I could no longer stand up and hold my branches out.
I laid there alright, the backside of me rather squished
beneath me in the dirt, there at the curb.
My branches on the other side; that were now on top
grew heavier as they grew drier, and browner.
The children passed without so much as a smile my way.
And this is where I am now —discarded
by the side of the road
caked in mud from passing cars
my limbs are weakened and dry, useless—
hungry no more for rain
or birds to visit, singing their songs of cheer—
I lay here brown & stiff
straggling against the curb without notice
shedding crumpled tinsel tears.