Christmas presence

This piece was re-worked from an earlier version for the Six Sentence challenge, with the prompt word ‘presence’.

Who knows how long this will last

but whatever each generation brings,

there will be totems of the past

fixed firmly insistent in each of our minds,

totems with faces carved in the hard woods

that only family trees produce

and set, sometimes poles apart, in the family grove.

Children growing themselves in new numbers each year,

all named and loved and parented in common for a day

with tear-filled eyes, chocolate-coated faces and grinning cheeks,

each hoisted to embrace and admiration,

all feats applauded and all false pride mocked.

Food, prepared as sanctioned by time,

in unspoken, ordained ritual by the women,

the bearers of all sustaining life

while men, surrounded by seemingly unobservant boys,

use beer to shorten stretching distances,

quietly competing every hurdle

until a child clings to a leg

and wins.

Lives past, sitting patiently in reserved and sacred chairs,

coming back to life in anecdotes of bastardry and joy,

as toddlers and crawlers, excited and bewildered,

sit knee-deep in wrapping paper,

while babes at breast, absorb every nuance

through the pores of their clan skin

and the memories encoded in their motherโ€™s milk.

The married-ins and new lovers,

belonging in their separateness to this caravan,

as hopeful as those that followed a certain star,

come bearing gifts,

as the matriarch,

with skills both ancient and subtle,

draws to her these strands unknitted,

so they ever unravel

and pull the fabric apart.

These are our totems,

their presence taking firmer shape with each year,

and living beyond presents shared,

ensuring that in all our futures

we will have at least one day

not alone.

21 thoughts on “Christmas presence

    • We don’t, Janet, but what I was attempting to describe was a family culture that is doing its best to ensure that Great Uncle Bill has that possibility to look forward to, in the same way that we plant trees for the next generation in the hope that they don’t chop them down for the next freeway or highrise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Superb, Doug. Bravo. This was packed with potent sentiments and visuals. I got teary thinking of the old and gone members of my family while reading this, but not so much sad, more happy thoughts ๐Ÿ˜Š I read it again with dryer eyes, but got teary again lol. Really powerful words, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

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