these days before Christmas have taken on the molasses scents and
January slow characteristics of my childhood
after completing snowbanks of work,
I look at the calendar and it’s still the same day
errands and tasks calling to me from every directions,
my mind is taking the long way,
and I think about driving past my childhood home
I wonder if someone is hanging up Christmas stockings at ‘our’ house
I may have embellished this memory, or maybe it only happened only once.
In my story, we would have to go upstairs and find one sock to bring down.
We would find a scrap of paper (off-colored salmon or blue or green, all fading to tan on the edges).
Each name would be printed or scripted in practice cursive best.
Straight pins held the papers to each stocking, and we would hope that there were no holes in the toes
Wishing for extra stretchiness in that sock, but knowing otherwise.
Hopes were as saggy as the acrylic cable knits socks, worn by first one, then each of us over the year.
The elastic was the kind that failed you by the morning pledge, right after Mass and morning prayers every school day.
There was no point of hanging up tights, thinking you’d get twice the amount of off-brand Lifesavers.
It would just be twice the disappointment.
Of course there was no mantle, so where did we hang our orphaned socks?
Maybe from our kitchen chairs, the assigned seats, no doubt.
I can see the table from various seating charts: closest to Dad,
in arm’s reach of his harm’s way, the effort of swatting flies
less than an arm’s length to the sink or the stove or the dish towel drawer.
I’m making it sound worse than it was, no doubt, because tonight,
with few cars on the road as I wind my way to town,
I’m envious of the ones who are upstairs searching for a sock,
and running downstairs to fetch a paper and a crayon.
Strength and loyalty
stained-glass window colors
truest blue and deepest scarlet
intensity even in the dusky light
one bell ringing, resonance continues
soft scents of pine, sugar, wood smoke
strength of conviction is loyalty to true self